Home > Dallas Mavericks, Leaving the bench, Miami Heat, Rule issues > Yet another discrepancy between what the rules say, and what is enforced

Yet another discrepancy between what the rules say, and what is enforced

Truehoop wrote a great piece on yet another discrepancy between what’s in the rulebook, and what the refs allow, or in this case, how the league office interprets their own rules.

You might remember the scuffle in Game 6 when DeShawn Stevenson and Udonis Haslem started shoving each other during a timeout. Players from both benches — who were already on the floor — came over to try to break things up.

At the time, the announcers said that the “rulebook” allows players to come off the floor during timeouts. We looked it up, and discovered the rulebook doesn’t say anything about players being allowed to do that during timeouts. It has just become an accepted practice, and it never became an issue until Sunday’s game when it butted up against the rule that IS in the rulebook to not come on to the court during an altercation.

Because the rule of players coming off the bench and getting involved in an altercation IS in the rulebook, we thought that the league would have had to suspend some of the players (if there was going to be a Game 7) if they were to follow the letter of the rulebook like they did in the 2007 playoff series between the Suns and Spurs.

As Truehoop notes, Stu Jackson, who heads up NBA basketball operations, said back in 2007 after players came off the bench during that altercation, “If you break it (the rule), you will get suspended, regardless of what the circumstances are.”

And David Stern said, “Is it a red-letter rule? Absolutely.”

Then we learned the NBA issued this statement during the second half of Game 6:

A player will not automatically be suspended for leaving the bench if he has already left the bench because a timeout was called.

As TrueHoop writes, “The rule is the rule is the rule is a reasonable position. The rule is the rule is the rule, except once in a while … that does not fly.”

  • Moo

    I don’t know about that, tbh.  The rule states that a player can’t ‘come off the bench’ and onto the court during an altercation.

    From the video I watched (and the NBA’s statement) it seems that the players were ALREADY off the bench when the altercation began.  So they didn’t really ‘come of the bench’ during the altercation.

    (Now, if any players who were still on the bench when the altercation began THEN jumped off to come onto the court, that would be different, and a suspension for the first few games of next season should be enforced)

    • RefCalls-TopFlops staff

      Actually, the rules state that during an altercation, “all players not participating in the game must remain in the immediate vicinity of their bench.” So the guys who were already on the court should have stayed in the “vicinity” of the bench, and coming to half court where the altercation was taking place should be a violation and grounds for suspension.

  • Anonymous

    It’s funny, because the announcers also seem to be in full support of throwing the rulebook out so as not to “ruin” the NBA finals. 

    A fascinating position, since that’s what they seem to do every game by ignoring or downplaying the bad calls (especially the travels) or just making up rules that “sound right” to justify things like charges.