David Stern came down hard last week, suspending NBA scoring leader Carmelo Anthony 15 games and fining the Knicks and Nuggets an unprecedented $500,000 apiece after their brawl Saturday night.
Also suspended: New York's Nate Robinson and J.R. Smith of the Nuggets, 10 games; New York's Mardy Collins, six; teammate Jared Jeffries, four. The Knicks' Jerome James and the Nuggets' Nene each were penalized one game for leaving the bench area during the chaos.
Though there was no separate penalty for Knicks coach Isiah Thomas, who warned Anthony not to go into the lane before the mayhem started, Nuggets coach George Karl singled him out for the sharpest criticism, calling his actions "despicable."
How did Isiah Thomas avoid suspension?
Answer: Stern said the league lacked "definitive information" to punish Thomas.
The video clearly shoes Thomas warning Anthony not to go into the lane, but it seems it did not rise to the level of definitive by Stern's definition. The league maintains that it would have needed more conclusive proof, such as Thomas or a Knicks player admitting that a hard foul was ordered, to suspend Thomas. The combination of allegations from the Nuggets and footage of Thomas on the sideline, even footage that required no real lip-reading expertise, didn't add up to conclusive for Stern.