I wish I had YouTube footage of it, but George Karl’s comments yesterday about Isiah Thomas… to quote my man Cal Naughton Jr., he nailed that like a split hog. I don’t know how David Stern gives out suspensions for this thing and leaves Isiah out of it. If there was any criminal activity that gave the NBA a black eye, if there’s any completely shameful thing that came out of the Knicks/Nuggets altercation, it’s that Isiah Thomas got off without punishment.
The standard for behavior is raised on Thomas immediately because he’s a coach and not a player. He’s the one who’s supposed to know better. And yet, he was the one pretty clearly, in my opinion, responsible for the whole damn thing.
First, you have his postgame comments, expressing the absurd notion that the Nuggets were somehow at fault because they were winning by 19 points and still trying hard. To even suggest that a fight is somehow justified because the Nuggets were still dunking and scoring points is absurd. That’s like saying, “Well, yeah, I burned down that guy’s house… but he did tell me that I parked my car in an illegal zone.”
Also as evidence is the video of Isiah saying to Carmelo “Don’t go to the basket. Don’t go to the basket.” That seems like a pretty good indication to me that Isiah Thomas had something planned if Carmelo did go to the basket. Why would he say that if there weren’t instructions in place to take a hard foul on someone? If you got Mardy Collins to answer completely honestly, I’m pretty sure he’d tell you that, yes, Colonel Jessup did order the Code Red.
I’m not arguing that it’s never OK to instruct your players to take a hard foul on someone. There are reasons, legitimate basketball reasons, why you’d do that. If you’ve got a player that’s roughing up your team, taking liberties, throwing some cheap shots… one strategy on how to deal with that is to give it back to him. If there’s a player you feel like will shrink if he takes a physical foul … hey, I’d give it to him.
But being embarrassed about getting your ass whooped … I don’t see that as a real good reason. Even if Karl did want to run up the score, I’m not sure Isiah’s justified in that. If you’re losing, you’re losing. No one cheated you. You have to suck that one up and take it.
Isiah is tired of being booed at home, he knew that the boos were coming, he was frustrated with his own team, and he did something stupid.