Stern in the right for fining unruly players

FRANK ZICARELLI, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:49 PM ET

Rasheed Wallace rips the refs and gets hit in the wallet.

Matt Barnes goes off by going public in his condemnation of officials.

Erick Dampier airs his beefs and gets whacked in the pocket.

Phil Jackson and Stan Van Gundy express a dissenting voice and are puzzled at the punishment.

As the NBA’s first round of the post-season makes way for the conference semi-finals, David Stern has set the bar when it comes to players and coaches griping about officials.

No pun intended, but Stern has been quite stern in his stance, a position that must be applauded because players and coaches are simply out of control.

If anything, he should do even more and has stated a desire to suspend players who verbally lambaste an official.

Judging by how little a deterrent fines have served, a suspension is precisely what’s required.

Then and only then will players and coaches begin to understand the folly of their ways.

If a star player isn’t getting favourable treatment, which in today’s game means getting to the line or avoiding foul trouble, it’s an official’s fault.

If a marquee team has a call go against it, it must be the byproduct of shoddy officiating.

Accountability has been lost, much like the game’s fundamentals have been lost in an era when playing above the rim is preferred by today’s athletic hoopsters.

In the aftermath of the Tim Donaghy debacle, the league has taken many steps in presenting a package that is both transparent and accountable.

Perhaps no pro league in North America demands as much scrutiny as the NBA, which reacts and responds in a matter that is quick and effective.

But somewhere the message has been lost at a time when players and coaches are too prone to lose their cool and too apt to blame an official.

It can be argued that the league over-reacted when the Knicks and Rockets met some 15 years ago in the NBA final when the rules regarding hand-checking were radically changed to promote more flow and more offence.

Bench-clearing incidents are seldom seen because they are no longer tolerated.

The Suns, in retrospect, were denied a championship a few years ago when San Antonio’s Robert Horry committed a hard foul on Steve Nash, prompting Nash’s Phoenix teammates to vacate the bench area, which is strictly forbidden.

Whether some will describe the punishment as too radical or too severe, basketball has to rid itself of the garbage that gets spewed by players and coaches.

The gamesmanship and the baiting add nothing to the product.

Even before the opening tap in this spring’s post-season run, Stern served notice that he wasn’t going to tolerate any anti-officiating comments, even any perceived slights.

Jackson gets fined $35,000 US.

A year ago this time, three coaches — Rick Adelman, Doc Rivers and Nate McMillan — were fined $25,000 for griping.

When the league suspended Kevin Garnett for one game for throwing an elbow at Quentin Richardson, no one complained because the NBA has a zero tolerance for such actions (Dwight Howard was suspended last post-season for throwing an elbow).

The league doesn’t need this crap. Just like the NBA doesn’t need any of its players or coaches berating officials.


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