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.”