Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Enforcing Rules Just Because They Are Rules is Awesome

So Amare and Boris are gone for a game for running in the general direction of a little fracas. Fine. The NBA is ruining a terrific series by holding two of the Suns best players to the letter of the law. OK. I guess.

But would it have killed Stu Jackson to have a press conference that went something like this?

"Good afternoon, good afternoon. Alright, let's get right to this. Amare and Boris both broke a rule. Everyone saw it live and the video evidence did nothing to overturn what we initially saw. To be honest, this was one of the easier decisions I've ever had to make. The law was clear and the players' actions were clear. Case closed.

But here is the thing: we screwed up. While we still believe in the intent of the rule forbidding players to leave the bench during a fight, we now realize - because of this situation - that we worded the rule waaaaaaay to strongly. The rule is meant to limit the escalation of fights. Amare and Boris did not do that in any way, shape or form and we actually commend the Phoenix bench for the restraint they showed when Robert Horry cheap shotted their team leader.

So here is what we are going to do: we are going to use a little common sense. Boris, and even more particularly Amare, are vital parts to what has been maybe the best series of the playoffs so far. If we remove them, the series becomes heavily tainted. We will not be suspending either of them. We are going to reword the rule. We are not going to let an archaic and poorly-executed ruled handcuff us when making a decision that will ultimately ruin our product.

Any questions?"

Yes, Mr. Jackson: what are you going to tell the Spurs? How can you not enforce a rule now when you have been blindly and irrationally enforcing it in the past?

"Well, it took me a while, but this extraordinary circumstance made me realize just how silly this whole thing is. I mean, really...what did they do? Took a few steps towards a fight and stopped? C'mon, I'm gonna ruin a terrific series over that? Really?

As far as the Spurs, I would say, started it. How is it fair for your role player (and let me be the first to say that he is a superb, superb role player) can deck the best player on the other team and not really hurt his team at all?"

Mr. Jackson, say this was James Jones and Pat Burke who had run towards the fracas? Would we still be having this conversation?

Hell no. They'd be suspended for a game and we'd be looking forward to a terrific Game 5.

So then how do you defend that? How is one rule fair for superstars and another rule fair for bench players?

"Listen, the rule is dumb and out-of-touch. It was a blanket overreaction to a situation hat had to be dealt with. It took Amare and Boris getting suspended for the pivital game of the preeminent playoff series of 2007 to show us that. Had this been two scrubs, we wouldn't have realized just how dumb this rule really is. So we are not giving super stars special treatment; rather, super stars are the impetus to permanent change."

Thank you for your time and your rationality, Mr. Jackson. It is a rarity, sir, and we applaud you for it.

"Just doing my job, fellas. Just doing what job."

Would that really have been so hard? Who would have been against that? Maybe a few sticklers for enforcing rules just because they are rules, regardless of their viability? The Spurs, maybe?

I would imagine that the only reason that the NBA enforced this rule in the first place was so they would look like they didn't play favorites. But really, all they would have to endure was a few columns from some inane columnists and Skip Bayless screaming like a lunatic for a day or two and it would all be over. Now, any time this series is brought up down the line - which it will be, since the winner is going to win the whole thing - this tainted Game 5 will be the first thing mentioned.

The only way to save this whole situation? The Suns need to win this series. At the very least, they need to win this game. If the Spurs rattle off the next two games, the NBA is going to look very, very bad.

4 comments so far. Might as well add your own.:

twins15 said...

I agree that rule is a bit much, but if it's there, they don't really have a choice but to enforce it. Diaw and Amare clearly violated the rules and they should know better... as Stern said, you can't make exceptions just because it's a franchise player, and you can't make exceptions just because that'll make the fans happy.

point 23 said...

Yea, I know what you mean, and I agree that you can't enforce rules whenever you feel like it or just for certain players. If Amare had drilled Tony Parker the way Horry laid out Nash (even though Nash did ham it up a bit), I would expect the NBA to suspend Amare.

My point is that I wish this incident would make the NBA realize that this is a misconceived rule and use it as an impetus to change the way they enforce it. Not just make an exception, but use this incident as a way to alter the rule for the better, permanently.

I doubt the NBA would ever make policy change on the fly like this, though. Wishful thinking on my part.

twins15 said...

I really do think that will happen in the offseason, I just don't think you can do it during a playoff series like this. I know what you mean, and I hope a change is made, but I just don't think it's feasible to make the change in the middle of things.

Lily said...

This was a horrible way to set an example but there is a very good chance that this rule will not come into play in the near future because of AMare and Diaw not playing. I think that all these superstars are going to think twice now before even lifting a toe off the bench when there teammate gets knocked around. Especially if that teammate isn't a two time MVP'er. Clearly, they want to play rather than running around like a lunatic backing up there buddy.