Not so Stern: Commish lets Isiah off the hook

Updated: December 19, 2006, 6:46 PM ET
By Chris Sheridan | ESPN.com
NEW YORK -- Before Monday night's Jazz-Knicks game, there was no braying from New York coach Isiah Thomas, who just hours before had been called an unprintable barnyard epithet by Denver coach George Karl.

After escaping punishment from NBA commissioner David Stern, Thomas kept his mouth shut and didn't gloat as he prepared to coach a game for which many expected him to be suspended.

Surprisingly, Stern ruled there was not enough evidence to prove that Thomas had ordered his players to commit the hard foul that Knicks rookie guard Mardy Collins put on Nuggets guard J.R. Smith, which touched off the worst NBA melee since the infamous 2004 Pacers-Pistons brawl at the Palace of Auburn Hills.

AP Photo/Mary AltafferIsiah Thomas deals with the media swarm at Madison Square Garden on Monday.

A statement from Knicks owner James Dolan was read to the media by a public relations official before Thomas said anything prior to New York's game against Utah, and after the statement was finished, Thomas didn't have much to add to a crowd of several dozen reporters, cameramen and photographers.

"We won't discuss that anymore or talk about it anymore," Thomas said of the brawl.

Asked if he wanted to respond to Karl, who called him "a jerk" and much worse names after learning that Thomas escaped punishment, Thomas simply replied, "Not at all."

Asked if he was confident earlier in the day that he'd escape a suspension, Thomas said he was.

And so remains the question of why Thomas eluded blame, and why Stern, during his half-hour conference call early Monday afternoon, did not even chastise Thomas for his actions.

During that call, the league and the commissioner announced the suspensions of seven players, most notably Denver star Carmelo Anthony, and a fine of $500,000 for each team.

We are left to pick apart Stern's comments, and his lack of comment, and to postulate over what may have motivated Draconian Dave to spare the guillotine and practically issue a pardon to Thomas, who appeared to be an instigator.


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