Jerry Stackhouse Suspended for Game Five of the FinalsJerry Stackhouse has been suspended without pay for game five of the NBA Finals. Stackhouse's foul against Shaquille O'Neal in game four has been upgraded from a Flagrant Foul One to a Flagrant Foul Two.
I suppose that this ruling is consistent with decisions that the NBA made earlier in the playoffs and this season. Certainly, it is a good thing that the NBA is doing everything it can to minimize violence, a far cry from the farce that is the NHL, whose officials skate in circles while players beat each other to a pulp. The decisiveness of the NBA sets it apart from Major League Baseball, which still has not punished Michael Barrett for the punch he threw several weeks ago.
Still, those of us who remember the NBA of 20-plus years ago--or have seen a lot of old games on ESPN Classic or NBA TV--have to wonder what kind of suspension that Kevin McHale would receive today for his clothesline against Kurt Rambis in the 1984 NBA Finals. Shaq said that his little girls hit him harder than Stackhouse did; if Stackhouse's foul is worthy of a one game suspension--and perhaps it is, although I did not think so watching the game live--McHale's assault on Rambis would now garner a lifetime ban. It is interesting that so many people attribute the rise in physicality in the NBA to the Detroit Pistons' Bad Boys teams of the late '80s and early '90s, because those teams were built to withstand the rugged play of the Celtics. Boston was a very physical team, going all the way back to M.L. Carr undercutting Dr. J in the 1980 playoffs, their very rugged play against the 76ers in the last three games of the 1981 Eastern Conference Finals and the aforementioned McHale-Rambis play. Robert Parish also coldcocked Detroit's Bill Laimbeer once, although many would say that his action had been provoked. Those Boston teams are much more remembered for their brilliance and finesse than for their physicality, but brute force was without question a big part of their success. The Pistons also played with brilliance and finesse--Isiah Thomas, Joe Dumars, Vinnie Johnson, Adrian Dantley (and then Mark Aguirre) all played with great artistry--but they will forever be known as thugs. I guess the old rule still applies--if you are going to hit someone, hit first, because the retaliator always gets caught. Boston hit first in the 1980s, but Detroit's retaliation is what sticks out in people's minds.
posted by David Friedman @ 7:29 PM