Knicks to Blame for Garden Brawl
It took one sucker punch for Carmelo Anthony to tarnish an MVP season and bring back memories of the Malice at the Palace. Saturday night in New York City, we had The Goons at the Garden.
Anthony's open-hand punch nailed Mardy Collins in the left cheek and gave the NBA another black eye that the league didn't need. Even if Anthony was sticking up for a teammate he should have been smart enough to walk away and allow the Knicks to make fools of themselves.
The brawl between the New York Knicks and the Denver Nuggets apparently started when Isiah Thomas reportedly told Anthony to stay out of the lane because a hard foul was about to be delivered. Sure enough, J.R. Smith was the victim of a mugging as Collins prevented a dunk with a horse collar that resulted in Smith crashing hard to the floor.
Frank Franklin IIThis hard foul by Mardy Collins on J.R. Smith started the brawl.
Smith, who three minutes earlier electrified the crowd with a reverse dunk, quickly rose to his feet to exchange heated words with Collins. The incident could have ended there but Nate Robinson, a 5-foot-9 hothead, shoved Smith and then all hell broke loose.
Anthony, Smith, Robinson, Collins and Jared Jeffries will all be suspended by the league on Monday. Thomas is also in danger of being punished if the league determines that he threatened to harm one of the Denver players.
Incredibly, Thomas blamed the Nuggets for having four starters on the floor in the final minutes of a blowout win. Indeed, George Karl has his reasons for wanting to rub Isiah's nose in it. Karl feels that Thomas and the Knicks organization mistreated his best friend, Larry Brown.
Karl made those feelings known over the summer and Thomas reacted by telling Karl at the Vegas Summer League to butt out of the Knicks business.
"I just made the point that he should talk about his own team and quit talking about ours," Thomas said in November about his conversation with Karl. "I don't talk about the Denver Nuggets and he shouldn't talk about the New York Knicks."
Thomas should have followed his own rule and not said a word to Anthony. Instead, he reportedly warned Anthony before the fight and then told Anthony after the brawl that he should have been out of the game in the first place.
"I just said to him you're up 19 with minute and half to go, you and Camby really shouldn't be in the game right now," Thomas said on Saturday, laughing. "We had surrendered. And those guys shouldn't have been in the game at that time. They were sticking it to us pretty good. They were having their way with us pretty good. I think J.R. Smith had just made one dunk where he reverses it and spins in the air. I thought that Mardy didn't want to have our home crowd see that again and he fouled him."
Thomas is under pressure to turn the Knicks into a winner or else he will be gone after the season. The Knicks are 4-10 in their home building and for the second time in two games they fell behind by 26 points in the second half.
Since the preseason, Thomas, the Knicks president and head coach, has created two potential brawls all on his own. He cursed at the Nets coaching staff during an exhibition game where the Knicks gave up 136 points. On Nov. 11, he went after San Antonio's Bruce Bowen because he felt that Bowen had injured Steve Francis and nearly did the same to Jamal Crawford.
Thomas began shouting at Bowen, who claims that Thomas threatened to "break his neck."
"It's a bad situation when a coach puts himself in that position and goes after a player," said Tim Duncan, who is regarded as one of the league's classiest players. "It's very uncalled for. I don't know what his intentions were with that and we have bigger plans than trying to hurt somebody. I would hope that people would understand and respect that and obviously they don't."
On Saturday, it's possible that during a timeout with 2:01 to play, Thomas instructed one of his players to give a hard foul. Collins entered the game at that point and 46 seconds later Smith was on the ground.
Collins was out of line but isn't the first player to give an excessive foul. That play alone would have resulted in at least a one-game suspension. It should have ended there. But Robinson had to prove how big he is and a Pistons-Pacers melee nearly broke out.
The Knicks, from their head coach on down, behaved like punks on the league's most hallowed floor. Anthony, who was brilliant all game, becomes the headliner because of what he did at the end of the fight. A long suspension could result in Denver not reaching the playoffs. But make no mistake about it; the Knicks started the entire mess.
The organization is already spinning the idea that everyone loved the rough and tough Knicks of the '90's so don't criticize this group for showing fight. There is one major difference. Those unfortunate incidents with the Chicago Bulls and the Miami Heat happened during the intensity of playoff games. What the Knicks did on Saturday was premeditated.
Too bad Anthony failed to realize that he and his teammates were the ones being suckered
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