Saturday, December 16, 2006

Knicks Brawl - Recap (I was watching live action)

First, of course, watch for yourself (the first 2/3s are the game highlights but you get to see all the fight video at the end):

Garbage time, Nuggets up like 20, Knicks turn the ball over and JR Smith is on the breakaway. Smith had had a breakaway dunk a couple of minutes earlier and he had showboated a bit, going and doing a reverse slam that had the crowd ooohing and aaaahing, so perhaps this was on Mardy Collins' mind as he pursued Smith down the court. Collins, who had just entered the game about 30 seconds earlier, catches up to Smith as he's about to go up for a layup or dunk, and slams his arms over Smith's shoulders. Smith goes down then immediately gets up and starts going after Collins. Nate Robinson grabs Smith from behind and tries to pull him away, then gets between the two and shoves Smith. Smith goes after Robinson and Robinson takes Smith down into the stands behind the baseline. All the players get down to the action. Jared Jeffries and Eduardo Najera are trying to break things up. JR Smith looks like he landed some punches on one of the Knicks players in a group of 3 or 4.

There is a little lull as Robinson and Smith have been separated. Jeffries is still holding Collins back when Carmelo Anthony comes up and just nails Collins in the chin. You could hear the punch all around the arena (Mike Breen makes several remarks about this). Carmelo immediately runs away, probably shocked that he was able to connect so solidly with his swing. Jeffries goes nuts and starts knocking coaches and players out of his way as he tries to get at Carmelo. Knicks assistant coach Mark Aguirre has him by the jersey and Jeffries is dragging him along as Anthony is hiding behind a bunch of his teammates. Nate Robinson breaks free and runs up after Carmelo, but seeing about 8 Nuggets around Anthony, he hesitates and Quentin Richardson, who is in street clothes, comes out on the floor and coralls Robinson back towards the bench.

Action is stopped for a few minutes and lead official Dick Bavetta decides to eject all 10 players on the floor. Each team leaves separately (there is only one tunnel at MSG so players from both teams normally walk off together). Action continues and Linas Kleiza takes the flagrant foul free throws for JR Smith. DerMarr Johnson with a big afro is forced to run the point for the Nuggets as Boykins and Andre Miller were both ejected. Nothing much interesting happens after that.


It looks to me like JR Smith and Carmelo Anthony were the only guys who threw punchs so they will be up for the longest suspensions.

Nate Robinson, Mardy Collins and Jared Jeffries will definitely see suspensions as well, as they were the main provocateurs on the Knicks side of things.

Mike Breen and Walt Frazier, the commentators for the Knicks, commented that several of the Knicks players left the bench. The cameras at the time, however, did not catch who exactly left, although Frazier commented that Marbury and Crawford definitely did not leave the bench. This became an automatic one game suspension after the Knicks-Heat brawl in the 1997 playoffs. Frazier also commented that the Nuggets' players did not leave the bench.

I would hypothesize that you will see a 6 game suspension for Anthony, 5 for Smith, 3 or 4 for Collins, Robinson and Jeffries, and one game for Richardson and whoever else left the Knicks' bench. It will be interesting, however, to see how Stern reacts to what was definitely the biggest fight since the 2004 brawl and the rule changes and changes in the perception of the NBA that followed.

The biggest disappointment here is that this will undoubtedly get connected with the Pistons brawl and we will have to hear about that again now for the rest of the season. Stern is very sensitive about the way the NBA is perceived and there is going to be some serious damage control here, so don't be surprised if some of the suspensions are much longer than what I wrote above. Advertisers, the reason the NBA makes $, are very wary about these scary black, tattooed men. They want the NBA to assure them that they will be kept in line, so Stern could be quite harsh here.

Finally, the Knicks have been perceived as a very talented team that has never had the focus game in and game out to be in the playoff mix. It will be interesting to see if this brawl diverts away some of the attention on their struggles, and gets them more focused on the game. Sometimes completely out of the blue, out of control events like this bring a team together and give them perspective. If there ever was an event that could transform the knicks, this would be it.

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