Anthony Suspended 15 Games for Brawl

"Clearly, we're not getting through or players in certain circumstances just don't want to be restrained. I would suggest that those players will not have long careers in the NBA," David Stern said during a conference call. (AP)
By Michael Lee
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Carmelo Anthony, the NBA's leading scorer and one of its most popular stars, was suspended for 15 games yesterday as NBA Commissioner David Stern levied harsh penalties following a melee near the end of a game between the Denver Nuggets and the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden on Saturday.

Anthony's suspension began last night with Denver's home game against the Washington Wizards.

Anthony was one of seven players suspended for a total of 47 games. Nuggets guard J.R. Smith and New York reserve Nate Robinson both received 10-game suspensions. The league also fined the Nuggets and Knicks $500,000 apiece.

Stern said he was "very disappointed" to see such an ugly scene a little more than two years after the infamous brawl between the Indiana Pacers and fans of the Detroit Pistons. "Clearly, we're not getting through or players in certain circumstances just don't want to be restrained. I would suggest that those players will not have long careers in the NBA," Stern said during a conference call. "We have set up the goal of eliminating fighting from our game. We haven't eliminated it completely."

Perhaps knowing that a stiff penalty was inevitable, Anthony issued an apology on Sunday. But it wasn't enough to keep him from receiving the sixth-longest suspension in NBA history. He will be forced to sit out until Jan. 20 for punching the Knicks' Mardy Collins.

Since Anthony's suspension is longer than 12 games, he can seek an arbitration hearing to have it shortened. Anthony's agent, Calvin Andrews, did not return a phone call seeking comment.

Stern said Anthony was given no special treatment. "We judged him on his actions on the court, period," Stern said. "And they deserved a harsh penalty."

Collins, a rookie reserve for the Knicks, sparked the incident when he placed his arms around the neck of Smith and slammed him down with 75 seconds remaining in the Nuggets' 123-100 victory. Collins was suspended six games.

Former Wizard Jared Jeffries, playing just his third game of the season since returning from a broken left hand, was suspended four games after he attempted to chase Anthony and had to be restrained by Garden security personnel and Knicks assistant coaches. Knicks center Jerome James and Nuggets reserve Nene each received one-game suspensions for leaving their benches during the on-court altercation.

After Collins's hard foul on Smith, Smith rose to confront him. Robinson rushed to the scene, pushing Smith. Anthony shoved Robinson, then Robinson and Smith exchanged faint punches that failed to land before Smith tackled Robinson. They tussled and fell into baseline seats, not far from where Madison Square Garden chairman James Dolan was watching the game.

The situation had appeared to die down when Anthony approached Collins and dropped him with a right hand to the face, further escalating the situation and sending Jeffries on a mad dash toward Anthony. Ten players were ejected after the fight. "The incident was deeply regrettable, unacceptable on every level and I hope and expect to never witness anything like it again," Dolan said in a statement. "We are all very sorry it happened."

Seconds before the mayhem ensued, Knicks Coach Isiah Thomas warned Anthony not to go into the lane, implying that a hard foul would come. He was not fined or suspended by the league. Stern said the league did not find "definitive information" to punish Thomas. Nuggets Coach George Karl told reporters in Denver yesterday that he thought Thomas should've been disciplined. "There's no question, it's wrong," he said.

Thomas implied that Karl was partially to blame for the brawl because he left four of his starters on the floor in the closing seconds of a blowout. "He put his players in a tough position," Thomas told reporters at the Knicks practice facility.

Karl was incensed with Thomas yesterday, calling him "a jackass" and saying that the excessive foul by Collins "was premeditated. It was directed by Isiah. I think his actions after the game were despicable. He made a bad situation worse. I'll swear on my children's life that I never thought about running up the score."

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