Player reaction yesterday over the suspensions laid out by NBA commissioner David Stern in the wake of an on-court brawl on Saturday night, ranged from admiration for Stern to resignation that fighting will never be taken out of the game.
Seven players received game suspensions after a Knicks-Nuggets brawl at Madison Square Garden. The biggest penalty was levied against Denver star Carmelo Anthony, who received a 15-game suspension for sucker punching Mardy Collins and then going into a full-scale retreat.
"It's sad. But that's sports, right?" Phoenix Suns star point guard Steve Nash said. "Boys will be boys and it happens. Those guys are very apologetic and sad by what happened, I'm sure."
Neither Nash nor teammate Jalen Rose, a former Raptor, believe that long suspensions will necessarily act as a deterrent when it comes to fighting.
"In the heat of the moment, I'm sure guys are not thinking, 'Hmm, I'm going to get fined here.' If Carmelo had time to think about it, he probably wouldn't have done what he did," Nash said. "We're human, we make mistakes."
"There's always going to be fights. I hate to say it, I don't promote violence, but people forget, we live and die with every possession, every call," Rose said.
Raptors head coach Sam Mitchell, however, does believe that players will think twice after Anthony got 15 games.
"It's a good message to me," he said. "I don't want my players involved in any altercations.
Raptors veteran Darrick Martin said that brawls occur when one team is beating the other by a wide margin late in the game, but keep their starting players on the court, which Denver did in the 123-100 win.
"You don't do that. You have to respect the other players and the other team," he said.
Nash, who led Canada at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, shook his head yesterday when asked if he was going to represent Canada at this summer's 2008 Olympic qualifying tournament in Las Vegas. Nash has long said that his days of competing in international tournaments are though ... Nash again expressed his enthusiasm for Cindy Klassen last week winning the Lou Marsh Award as Canada's athlete of the year.
"It's well deserved on her part," he said.