In 1994* the NBA instituted very strict rules about players leaving the bench to join an on-court rumpus. Now, a mandatory suspension and $50,000 fine follows any such instance. During Indiana’s Game 6 win to even their first-round series against the Hawks, Mike Scott and George Hill got into a tiff under the basket. Not a big deal as both were simply assessed technicals, but during the dust-up Paul George may have left Indy’s bench.
It wasn’t just George who stepped on the court during the brief skirmish, but Rasual Butler isn’t the key ingredient if the Pacers want to pull out this first-round series at home on Saturday. Atlanta made a big run when George picked up his fourth foul early in the third quarter tonight.
Before we show the evidence, scant though it may seem, we should take a look back at the Suns-Spurs Western Conference Semifinal from 2007. Suns Amar’e Stoudemire and Boris Diaw were suspended after Robert Horry — then playing for the Spurs — bloodied Steve Nash‘s nose at the end of Phoenix’s Game 4 win to even the series. It seemed completely rational — given the way Horry (smartly, it turned out) hip-checked Nash into the scorer’s table — for Stoudemire and Diaw to jump up and start to rush the court before Suns coaches pulled them back. Players look out for their teammates, and the Horry hip looked malicious in real time. But both players served the mandatory suspensions in an all-important Game 5 in Phoenix, which the Spurs won before winning the series in six games and going on to win their fourth title of the Tim Duncan era.
Now lets look at the evidence against George:
— Michael Lee (@MrMichaelLee) May 2, 2014
Here’s the official wording of the law:
Rule 12, Section VII, Article (c):
“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 $50,000.”
The question is whether George’s step-and-a-half onto the court will be considered as leaving the “immediate vicinity” of the Pacers’ bench. The NBA’s interpretation of the rule in 2007 prevented the Suns from playing their two most important defenders against Duncan in that heartbreaking second-round loss. Who’s to say the same thing might not happen to George?
Let us all hope the Pacers trot out their full team on Saturday, but stranger things have happened when there’s a minimum one-game suspension after leaving the bench.
*Was originally incorrectly reported the rule was instituted in 2004 after the Malice at the Palace, but it was actually a decade earlier.
(GIF via SB Nation; H/T reddit)
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