Tuesday, May 22, 2007

New respect for Mark Cuban

I never paid attention to the NBA until I met Torsten, who is a huge Dallas Mavericks fan, due in part to his love of Dirk Nowitzki (he claims this has nothing to do with their shared German heritage). Now Torsten and I have been watching nearly every NBA playoff game in HD (something else I never paid attention to until I met Torsten).

There was an incident recently during a playoff game between the San Antonio Spurs and the Phoenix Suns, wherein a Spurs player delivered a flagrant foul and two Suns players left the immediate vicinity of the bench to get closer to where the episode was occurring. The Spurs player who committed the foul was suspended for two games and the Suns players who left the immediate vicinity of the bench were suspended for one game each. Many people blame the Suns' subsequent home loss to the Spurs (which more or less changed the direction of the series that the Spurs ultimately won) on the suspension of those two players.

The reason those two players were suspended is that the NBA has a new(ish) cut-and-dry rule about this exact situation. Part C of Section VI ("Fighting Fouls") of Rule 12A reads, "During an altercation, all players not participating in the game must remain in the immediate vicinity of their bench. Violators will be suspended, without pay, for a minimum of one game and fined up to $35,000. The suspensions will commence prior to the start of their next game."

TNT, which has been broadcasting many of the playoff games, held a mini-debate shortly after the incident where Charles Barkley ranted about how stupid the rule was because the guys who left the bench didn't actually escalate the incident. He repeated the same thing over and over during the "debate," completely ignoring what the other people in the newsroom kept trying to point out, which was that the point of the rule is to keep players from trying to escalate intense situations, and to keep coaches from having to hold them back from getting into a brawl, as seemed to be the case (based on the replays they showed) during this incident.

Anyway, the point of this is that those two players did leave the bench during an altercation, they were punished for it in a manner consistent with the rule, and then everyone complained a lot about how unfair this was to the Suns. I think that's a pile of crap and considering how much trouble the NBA has had with altercations and brawls recently, having a clear and non-negotiable rule designed to prevent situations from escalating into brawls is a clever idea. And Charles Barkley really annoyed me by being so bull-headed and stupid about it.

Then I found Mark Cuban's blog. Mark Cuban is the owner of the Mavericks, and is known for his hot temper, the fits he pitches, and the fines he regularly incurs from the NBA for his behaviour. I always think of him as an amusing wild card and not somebody to be taken too seriously. But he has an entry on his blog that points out, quite succinctly, that this rule is a good one and that it was applied correctly to both Suns players. And it's brilliant. And actually, the rest of his blog also shows that he's a pretty smart guy. Even if he did refuse to match the Phoenix Suns' offer to Steve Nash when Nash became a free agent. I guess I should have knownmost self-made billionaires aren't dumb.

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