Suspensions surely aren’t what Paul Pierce had in mind when he recently stressed a mindset of toughness and physicality to his new Washington Wizards teammates – especially when the players in question weren’t even involved in the incident. After Nene, Dejuan Blair, Daniel Orton, and Xavier Silas left the bench while Pierce tangled with Joakim Noah during Washington’s exhibition against the Chicago Bulls on Monday, the league has suspended the Wizards quartet for the first game of the 2014-2015 regular season.
Pierce and Noah were each fined $15,000 by the NBA for their role in the altercation. Given the video below and the suspension of Nene and company, those punishments don’t exactly seem fair. But the league is notoriously strict about rules surrounding players off the court becoming involved in incidents on it, and has unsurprisingly acted accordingly.
Sure enough, there’s Silas, Blair, Orton, and Nene coming – waling is a more accurate description, actually – to Pierce’s aid as the latter squares up to Noah. Again, the punishments don’t fit the crime here, but the league cares not – the more people involved, the more likely a minor scuffle could snowball into Malice At The Palace.
No Silas and Orton for Washington’s season-opener is inconsequential; there’s a chance neither will make the team’s final roster. But Nene is a crucial loss for the Wizards as they meet the Miami Heat in South Beach on October 29, and his absence is further exacerbated by that of Blair.
Washington needs every win they can get against the four-time defending Southeastern Division champions this season, and would set a tone that a new era has begun by stealing a win on opening night in Miami. But achieving that tall task will be made much more difficult by a depleted frontcourt, even if the Heat aren’t exactly the Memphis Grizzlies or Indiana Pacers in terms of interior strength.
Nene and his teammates did the crime, though, and will now pay the time too. And unfortunately for the Wizards, it will come on a night that matters more than the vast majority of regular season games.
(GIF via _MarcusD_)
What do you think?
Follow Jack on Twitter at @ArmstrongWinter.
Follow Dime on Twitter at @DimeMag.
Become a fan of Dime Magazine on Facebook HERE.