....it sucks that the Spurs are essentially rewarded for their guy causing the whole thing.
THAT SAID (and this is a big THAT SAID), the reason we italicized the thingy up there in blue is because the spirit of the law was followed.
It doesn’t matter if Stoudemire and Diaw weren’t coming to fight or getting ready to throw punches. If any of you have ever been in a fight situation, then you know that having extra hands standing by to support you fires things up just a little more.
All of a sudden three guys “got your back” and you can get a little more shovey, a little more pushy, a little more mouthy, and you’re that much closer to a fight breaking out.
It escalates things, and that’s what the “spirit of the law” is for. It’s supposed to prevent the fight from happening in the first place, not punish people for getting in a fight. It worked - those guys scurried back to the bench, and it stopped things from escalating further and getting out of hand.
The NBA did the right thing in this situation - argue all you want about how it makes the series worse (and it does), it’s not fair to the Suns because they didn’t start it (and they didn’t), and that the rule needs to be revisited (it might), but there’s no doubt that Amare and Boris running out there (and Amare was running aggressively) was going to push things to another level.
If you watch the tape, Stoudemire (who has been chippy all series) runs out to the court and gets pulled back by teammates and coaches.
If Stoudemire and Diaw had taken a step on the court and then immediately jumped back then I think Stern could've let it slide. But they, Amare especially, went toward the action. This is what the rule is there for.
Does it suck that the Spurs are gaining an advantage? Yes. Does it suck that Stoudemire is missing a game? Yes. But I'm not sure what the other option is here. "Well, the Spurs are gaining an advantage so I guess I'll suspend Tony Parker just to even things out." Stern and the NBA followed the spirit and the letter of the law.
Could you imagine the uproar if Stern decided not to suspend these guys for obviously breaking a rule? With Utah moving on? We'd be hearing a whole bunch of crap about small markets, how no one wants to see a Jazz-Spurs WCF and how Stern wants the Suns to move on (high scoring team, flashy, Nash and his MVP's, etc).
He had no other choice.