Posted: 9:46 am Friday, May 2nd, 2014

Paul George was on court: Your move, NBA (update: no suspensions) 

By Jeff Schultz

This should be fodder for NBA conspiracy theorists: Would the NBA actually suspend Indiana’s Paul George for a seventh game of a playoff series?

UPDATE: The answer is no. The NBA has decided to not suspend any players for Game 7. Can’t say that’s a surprise.

If you missed it, George and teammate Rasaul Butler left the bench in the Hawks-Pacers first-round playoff game Thursday night during an altercation between the Hawks’ Mike Scott and Indiana’s George Hill. Video shows Butler coming much farther onto the court than George, who took two steps onto the court before both players were held back by an assistant coach.

Here’s the video:

There was a similar incident in a 2007 playoff game between San Antonio and Phoenix, when the Spurs’ Robert Horry gave a hard foul to the Suns’ Steve Nash, prompting Amare Stoudemire to leave the Phoenix bench. (Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer was a Spurs assistant coach.)

Stoudemire was suspended for Game 5 of that series, prompting this comment: “I am disappointed that the NBA looked at the letter of the rule and not the spirit of the rule. I admit I stepped on the court, and that I should have had some more restraint, but Tim Duncan did the same thing but just not in such an aggressive manner. The rules are the rules, and I abide by them, and in that same vein, I think it would be beneficial for the league then to have also taken a further look at Tim Duncan.”

Here’s video of Horry’s hit on Nash that prompted Stoudemire (near one minute mark) to leave bench area. You can see Stoudemire (wearing No. 1) taking one foot onto the court:

Stu Jackson was the NBA’s executive vice-president under then commissioner David Stern when the suspension was handed out. “The rule with respect to leaving the bench area during an altercation is very clear. Historically, if you break it, you will get suspended, regardless of what the circumstances are,” he said then.

But Jackson said on Twitter Thursday night that he expects Butler to get suspended but not George.

The view certainly seems to be different from the couch than it was in his office.

But if this rule is followed by the letter of the law, like it was in 2007, shouldn’t George be suspended? Here’s the exact wording:

Rule No. 12, Section VII, Item 3 (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 suspensions will commence prior to the start of their next game.”

This all comes down to the interpretation of “immediate vicinity.” But the video affirms George was on the floor.

The question is whether the NBA would actually suspend George, the best player on the Eastern Conference’s No. 1 seed, for a deciding game? Doubtful.

24 comments
NateKenny
NateKenny

Stoudemire was definitely didn't have "one foot onto the court." He RAN down the court. Way more severe than anything George or Butler did. That's why he was suspended and they were not. Perfectly logical. I'm not sure what the argument is here

Percy
Percy

They fixed that assertion that Jeff bloggers for the AJC! I'll miss laughing at that.

POAD2014
POAD2014

How many UGa players were suspended for the TECH game after the FIGHT and leaving the bench to rush the field during the Auburn FAIRLEY Fight?

NONE.

Rules don't mean S..T in sports.  

HarveyPooka
HarveyPooka

Non-issue.   Move on folks, nothing to see here.

cloudodust
cloudodust

What..? Nobody got the newest copy of the rules and regs according to Adam Silver..? Rule No. 1 Section 1 Item 1 (a): Commissioner rules the rules and can bend, reshape, and/or suspend and/or fine players and/or ownwership as the Commissioner deems necessary or is swayed by public opinion. No One but the Commissioner may physically attack, assault and/or verbally speak and/or share thoughts with anyone without expressed written consent from the Commissioner and/or his/her legally approved authoritive body from his/her Office of What I Say Goes.. The World According to Adam 'Yellar Belly' Silver. What a hoot his term of Commissioner is gonna be. Now back to hockey where rules are rules...

Classof98
Classof98

Anyone who thinks that any team other than the Heat has a chance to win the NBA title must've also believed Roddy Piper had a chance to beat Hulk Hogan in Wrestlemania.


It's not a sporting competition, folks, it's a business.



PaulinNH
PaulinNH

Looks like Paul George officially reached LeBron, Durant, Kobe territory.

thebucket
thebucket

None of the Suns should have been suspended in 2007 and no Pacers should be suspended for Game 7.

williar
williar

Stu, the NBA is no longer any of your business, I would suggest you mind it. The rule is the rule, if it was the Hawks, we would be missing a star player for game 7. Damn the excusses, Pacers deserve what they get.

Wilbo
Wilbo

They ought to suspend George Hill for casting a naughty eye in the direction of the altercation, then suspend all the Hawks for being choking slugs. 


Pick some nice Buckhead Church and let one of their little girls teams fill in for the Hawks. Dress Mark Bradley and the author of this piece in red pinafores and give them red and white pompoms. 


That way the Hawks would have a better chance of winning Game 7 than they do right now.

Delusionaldog
Delusionaldog

Stopping a 12-1 run the end of the game will matter more. 

SWAT_Native
SWAT_Native

Don't suspend him. I don't want any excuses.

CowbellHell
CowbellHell

Do we really need THREE articles on the SAME subject AJC... JEEZ

Zing
Zing

George Hill is the one who should be suspended for trying to poke Mike Scott in the eye.

gtownie
gtownie

Let me preface by saying this - If I had written the rule, I wouldn't have suspended PG (because I think in the heat of the moment, he was stopped (or stopped himself) prior to raising any tension). However, the precedent has been set, and based on that precedent, he should be suspended.


There are 2 issues at play that bother me here - 


1. The slippery slope - If PG is not suspended, is "the vicinity" now "on the court, but no more than 2 steps on the court"? Is it "on the court, but not looking like you're going to get involved"? I'm not sure where you draw the line.(which is most likely the reason the line was drawn at "on the court". It is a bright line rule.)


2. If PG is not suspended, does it not show some favoritism to the superstar? These rules should be followed blindly - if the precedent is "coming onto the floor warrants a suspension", it should not be interpreted as "coming onto the floor warrants a suspension as long as you are not the best player on the team." Too often we talk about how athletes are treated above-the-law or better than normal folks. Is this not a similar situation, where a superstar athlete is treated better than the others?


Selfishly, I want him suspended and want the Hawks to rout the Pacers. But realistically, if he is not suspended, the Commissioner will have clearly altered the interpretation of the rule and the treatment of players.

MikeS777
MikeS777

@ScottShonk  OK so suspend some Hawks bench players that aren't playing anyway.  

DawgNole
DawgNole

@Zing  

Scott's elbow is what prompted the finger-pointing.

Eric_C
Eric_C

@CowbellHell I guess that shows what the AJC thinks of the Hawks chances in game 7 on the road

gtownie
gtownie

@DouglasRanger @gtownie  Sure, I see that. 2 questions - 1. Who is on the court, and 2. Can you tell me for certain that they are on the court? I see the guy on the far right, but for the life of me can't tell who that is. The rest might as well be straddling the line. Can you really tell?


Something about the rule probably needs to change because, as someone told me at some point, how can you punish players for just trying to get a better view?