May 2, 2014, 4:44 PM EST
UPDATE 4:44 pm: The Indiana Pacers will have Paul George for Game 7. That according to Ken Berger at CBSSports.com:
I think this was the right call by the league. It is possible that under some older, stricter interpretations of the rule you could have gone after George (or more strongly Rasual Butler) but I think that misses the spirit of the rule — keep the guys on the bench from escalating things. That didn’t even come close to happening here. No reason to taint a Game 7 for that.
11:27 am: The Pacers and Hawks will play a Game 7 tomorrow. Will Paul George and Rasual Butler play in it?
Let’s start with the relevant rule:
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 four feet in the corner belong to Butler and George. Butler, in the black shoes, goes farthest – partway inside the 3-point arc. George, in the gold shoes, doesn’t go quite as far, but he steps all the way inbounds.
The coach in slacks and black shoes to their right is permitted to leave the bench to break up the fight. The rule applies only to players.
So, what will happen to George and Butler?
NBA president of basketball operations Rod Thorn will decide. His predecessor, Stu Jackson, offered his opinion:
“A precedent wasn’t necessary here,” Jackson said. “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.”
That was David Stern’s NBA, and with Adam Silver now in charge and Thorn determining punishment, precedent doesn’t necessarily apply.
Regardless, this is as close a call as I’ve seen. The key question: What defines “the immediate vicinity” of a bench?
During live-ball situations, players routinely wander over the sideline without penalty. Crossing the sideline alone doesn’t cause penalty. It matters only if they interfere with play.
Neither Butler nor George interfered with the fight, but that’s not the standard. The rule is designed to prevent fights from escalating and players leaving “the immediate vicinity of their bench” alone causes a suspension.
As the NBA hoped, the rule worked here. George immediately retreated to the bench after stepping forward, and though Butler went farther and wasn’t quite as quick getting back, he returned without incident, too.
But the NBA also wants to maintain the conditions that currently exist. When players fighting see players on the bench come toward the altercation – even if just a step or two before retreating – that can escalate the incident. The league also surely wants to discourage players from even considering leaving the bench.
The question might become: How relative is “immediate vicinity” to where the fight occurs?
If the fight had spilled closer to the Pacers’ bench, even if George and Butler maintained their exact position just inside the sideline, I think we’d be having an entirely different conversation. I have little doubt both would be suspended in that case.
Last night, multiple Hawks came onto the court during the fight. Look over Frank Vogel’s left shoulder in the background:
Atlanta’s bench was on the far end of the court, nowhere near the fight. Do the Hawks then have a larger area considered the “immediate vicinity” of their bench?
If the term is not relative to where the fight occurs, Atlanta players should be facing suspension, too.
If “immediate vicinity” is a relative term, and I suspect it is, the NBA faces a tough decision on whether George and Butler left the bench..
As an aside, I found this section the rule very interesting:
If five or more players leave the bench, the players will serve their suspensions alphabetically, according to the first letters of their last name.
A team must have a minimum of eight players dressed and ready to play in every game.
So, if a team’s next game is big and its star player leaves the bench during a fight, at least four of his teammates who come before him alphabetically should also leave the bench – forcing a one-game delay of the star’s suspension.
Maybe that’s what Rasual Butler was going for here? (Not really.)
It wouldn’t have worked, anyway. George ranks fifth on the team alphabetically, and Chris Copeland was already in the game. So, at most, only three teammates before George could have gotten suspended with him.
Dec 25, 2014, 11:00 AM EST
Howard and Smith were AAU teammates.
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Dec 25, 2014, 9:30 AM EST
These teams do not like each other.
Dec 25, 2014, 8:00 AM EST
And at No. 1… come on, isn’t it pretty obvious?
Dec 25, 2014, 2:13 AM EST
This will be his fourth game missed with a sprained ankle, they are 1-2 without him the last three.
Dec 24, 2014, 11:00 PM EST
The Wizards are an underrated team in the East. The Knicks… not so much.
Dec 24, 2014, 9:30 PM EST
Previewing the Bulls vs. Lakers matchup at the United Center.
Dec 24, 2014, 9:00 PM EST
Colorways inspired by shoes Michael Jordan wore during his best Christmas Day performance.
Spurs and Thunder, who’ve been best in the West lately, both fighting for position entering Christmas matchup
Dec 24, 2014, 7:00 PM EST
Injuries to Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and Kawhi Leonard have put both teams behind the eight ball
Dec 24, 2014, 6:06 PM EST
An additional confirmation that no Deron Williams deal gets done on Sacramento’s side unless they can also get the talented young big man as part of the package.
Dec 24, 2014, 5:30 PM EST
Young says Lakers played liked ‘Django Unchained’ without Kobe Bryant
Dec 24, 2014, 4:00 PM EST
Boston has Brandan Wright, large trade exception
Dec 24, 2014, 3:00 PM EST
The NBA has given us some good presents to open for Christmas.
Dec 24, 2014, 2:15 PM EST
McHale earned this.
Dec 24, 2014, 1:24 PM EST
This is a low risk pickup by the Rockets at a good price.
Dec 24, 2014, 12:58 PM EST
A minor move, but one that should benefit both teams.
Dec 24, 2014, 12:36 PM EST
Expect more Tristan Thompson in the short term, a trade for Cleveland to land a big in the longer term.
Dec 24, 2014, 11:45 AM EST
Miami fans will boo a little, but this isn’t Cleveland.
Dec 24, 2014, 11:00 AM EST
Lakers can use Steve Nash’s disabled-player exception to sign free agents
Dec 24, 2014, 10:00 AM EST
Orlando’s fourth-year players have All-Star cases. Yes, really.
Kendall Marshall turns back to play, runs like an airplane to celebrate… Jared Dudley’s missed 3-pointer (video)
Dec 24, 2014, 9:45 AM EST
Bucks don’t come back, fall to Hornets
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