Mitchell shrugs off Nuggets-Knicks brawl

MIKE KOREEN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:52 AM ET

Sam Mitchell thinks it is unfair to say the NBA is slipping into uncontrolled madness in the wake of the New York Knicks-Denver Nuggets fracas Saturday night at Madison Square Garden.

"Are we really calling that a fight?," the Raptors coach said. "We call that a punch."

Mitchell was referring to Nuggets star Carmelo Anthony's attempted punch at Mardy Collins in the wake of the Knicks player's hard foul on J.R. Smith. All 10 players on the court were ejected with 1:15 left in the fourth quarter of a Nuggets blowout after some of the pushing and punches went into the first row of seats.

While it certainly was not a good scene for the NBA, Mitchell doesn't see any similarities betweeen it and the Indiana Pacers-Detroit Pistons brawl in 2004 when several players entered the stands.

"What happened in Detroit, fans got involved," Mitchell said. "I wouldn't even try to compare those two. To me, they're apples and oranges."

The league could hand down suspensions and/or fines from Saturday night before each team plays its next game tonight.

OTHER SPORTS DO IT

Mitchell defended the NBA saying all the other sports have fighting on a regular basis.

"The NFL is a tough, violent sport," Mitchell said. "Hockey (same thing). People are complaining there is too little fighting in hockey now. I remember a few hockey games I went to with the (Minnesota) North Stars. Every night (there were fights), but the best fights were in the stands, man. People loved it.

"Baseball, every year guys are going to charge the mound, guys are going to come out of dugout and the manager will sit there and say: 'Yeah, I told him to throw at him,' which going to start the fight and people accept that.

"So why is it such a black eye when these guys lose their temper? It's tough when you're getting drilled out there at home ... It's tough. Pride kicks, in you get upset, lose your temper. Our league is no worse than anyone else."

Besides, he said, basketball players are poor fighters.

"We can't fight," said Mitchell. "We can wrestle, we can kick. We've got a better chance of scratching each other or biting each other before we actually throw a punch."


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