Print and Go Back ESPN: SportsNation

December 18, 10:56 AM ET
Chat with Bill Simmons

Buzzmaster
  (2:09 PM)

Bill will be joining us shortly!

Bill Simmons
  (2:10 PM)

Sorry im a little late - technical difficulties

Nic (Madison, WI)

I watched the replay of the fight about 15 times instead of studying for my exam in an hour. I thought that Nate Robinson should have gotten a stiffer punishment for his role. What do you think?

Bill Simmons
  (2:11 PM)

Couldn't agree more. Nate Robinson is crazy. Just last week, he nearly got into a fight with Sebastian Telfair for the second time this season. He got in 2 separate fights with teammates last year, including a naked School Ties type fight with Malik Rose in the shower.

Bill Simmons
  (2:12 PM)

He clearly has Small Man's Complex. I thought he totally escalated the thing ala Ben Wallace with the Artest Melee.

Koby (New York, NY)

Basically the way i see it was Melo got 15 games for sucker punching the 15th best player on the NY Knicks...terrible decision for one of the games best players.

Bill Simmons
  (2:13 PM)

Agreed - bad decision and it hurt all the progress he made on and off the court in 2006. At the same time, it was NOT a sucker punch. They had been jawing at one another and Collins was clearly egging him on. The problem was that Melo punched him, then backed up 75 feet like a wuss. If you're going to punch someone, don't run away afterwards ... that was a cowardly move on his part. With that said, 15 games is ludicrous.

Bill Simmons
  (2:15 PM)

I also don't like the precedent of punishing guys severely for sticking up for teammates. How does Melo get 15 games and Isiah gets nothing for basically being the John kreese of the situation? MSG had him on tape telling Melo, "You better not go in the paint." a minute later, his worst player cheapshots a Nuggets player. And Isiah gets off scot-free?

tim, santa monica

how is it isiah doesnt get suspended? is a lack of evidence the problem. everything ive read says he was verbally threatening anthony. also, how does this incident further cement his place as worst gm/coach in the league/history?

Bill Simmons
  (2:15 PM)

I think the brawl was either the highlight of the lowlight of the Isiah Era. I can't decide which one.

Bill Simmons
  (2:16 PM)

One other thing I loved: In the press conference, did you notice that he did the same creepy, sarcastic laugh that he did after saying that Larry Bird would be "just another good player" if he was black back in 1987? Thought that was interesting.

Gar (NYC)

Nate was the worst type of instigator. He would step up and talk BIG, but once someone stepped up to him, he backed off. Did you see how fast he backed off Carmelo and stood besides his teammates once he realized the Nuggets were ready for a brawl?

Bill Simmons
  (2:17 PM)

I disagree - I thought Nate represented himself pretty well. He's 5-foot-7 for God's sake. His reverse takedown of JR Smith was pretty nice. I just think the guy is a loose cannon - he's like Stephen Jackson with small man's complex.

Jesse (Hartford, CT)

First 'Melo sucker punches a rookie, then he back peddles away from the skinniest man in the NBA in Jarred Jeffries, who would have blown out his knee throwing a punch. What I want to know is what Collins said to Anthony? You think he called him a snitch?

Bill Simmons
  (2:18 PM)

You're right, it's bad enough to backpedal 75 feet after throwing a haymaker, but backpedaling from Jared Jeffries? What was Jeffries going to do, scratch his eyes out?

Bill Simmons
  (2:19 PM)

One more thing: The camera angle of Melo's "punch" was deceiving, I don't think he closed his hand. It started out as a punch but ended up being more of a hard slap. If he had really punched Collins that hard, he would have broken his hand or broken Collins's jaw.

Les (Basalt, CO)

It what sense does the video of Thomas warning Carmelo Anthony not to go in the paint, coupled with his response in the post-game interview, not represent "definitive information?"

Bill Simmons
  (2:20 PM)

Totally agree. Personally, I think Stern didn't want to suspend Isiah because that would have made it harder for Dolan to fire him. Which will be happening shortly.

Dan, Orlando

Bill, you said it, it's an outrage that Isiah gets no punishment, and Melo did act like a wuss. How come no one is talking about Melo merely sticking up for his boy? and the fact that it was no sucker punch? I was disappointed that Melo even apologized.

Bill Simmons
  (2:23 PM)

Agreed. he should have apologized for backpedaling and that's it. Watch the tape. Collins was basically begging for somebody to punch him - it was a cheap foul in the final minute of a blowout, and then he smugly talked trash afterwards and clearly called out Melo. At some point, the NBA needs to realize when people's manhood is being called into question. These are competitive guys with a ton of pride, you can't expect them to constantly turn the other cheek. isiah ordered a cheap shot, Collins delivered, and then Nate Robinson escalated everything... so Melo gets the most games? That's absurd.

Jazz (NY, NY)

How come we are not giving George Karl that much slack? I mean, come on, the guys leaves his starters in with a minute left and up by 20

Bill Simmons
  (2:24 PM)

That's the piece of this that nobody is discussing - everyone knew there was bad blood with Isiah and Karl stemming from the Larry Brown saga, it was even written about a few weeks ago. Karl is a huge Brown guy ... he left the starters in to Isiah. There's no question. I loved that. Also loved how he left with 5 seconds left as isiah gave him a death stare.

Bill Simmons
  (2:25 PM)

My other favorite part of the brawl - how bout 2 of the 3 refs being a 120 year old man (Dick Bavetta) and a female (Violet Palmer)? The only way that crew would have been less prepared for a brawl is if the 3rd ref was 12 years old.

james (portland, OR)

in most of these brawls players are "defending" each other. it looks to me like they just lose it once one player gets involved with another and it gets escalated out of control, but how come hockey, baseball and football can get in fights and suspensions are for 1 game or 2 games and the leagues best player gets 15 games for a single punch thrown?

Bill Simmons
  (2:27 PM)

Stern is trying to expunge fighting, but you cannot expect these guys not to rub each other the wrong way every once in awhile. That was NOT a bad brawl. We just live in an era of sports media right now where this stuff is instantly blown out of proportion. For instance, check out this You Tube clip of a Knicks-Lakers fight from 1988 and tell me if it's any different than what happened on Saturday night: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vVnlPq_kYns

Bill Simmons
  (2:28 PM)

There have been at least 100 fights in the last 25 years that were worse than Saturday night's fight.

Joshua, New York, NY

I was shocked when I heard what Nate Robinson was using as justification for the foul - the Nuggets had their starters on, and they were about to embarrass the players and the franchise? Is he still in the 9th grade? He sure looks it. I remember reading Nate calling the foul something along the lines of it being a good, clean, hard foul. That's insane. I think the franchise embarrassment started back in 2003, when Bad Boy Thomas was named president of this once prestigious organisation, somehow managing to bring together the likes of Stephon Marbury, Steve Francis, Jared Jeffries, Eddy Curry, Jerome James, and Q Rich. Hopefully he starts seeing Tenacious Lee's potential sooner or later or the Knicks are over.

Bill Simmons
  (2:30 PM)

Nate Robinson came off like an absolute idiot on Saturday night. No surprise to anyone who follows the league. But I think people are missing another aspect to this fight - Knicks games are REALLY depressing. I went to the Wiz-Knicks game two Wednesdays ago and the fans booed intermittently for the whole second half. The energy just couldn't have been worse in the building. At the end of the game, Jamal Crawford started yelling at one of the rich a-holes sitting courtside who was booing them and they exchanged words. You could just tell that this team was going to snap at some point. And they did.

Chris (Hamilton, OH)

Maybe this whole Isiah/George Karl fued could be settled with them kissing at half court.

Bill Simmons
  (2:31 PM)

Good one. I can't wait to see what Isiah's next job will be - he's really threatening to break the record for "most failed ventures after retirement by a great athlete." I think he's even passed OJ at this point.

Dave (Chicago)

Bill, you've met and interviewed the man: don't you think David Stern loves this, even though he's forced to say something different in public? You theorize he makes changes (e.g., dress code, microfiber ball) just to keep a leg up as the NFL season begins...don't you think this is even better for him (the any publicity is good publicity argument)?

Bill Simmons
  (2:33 PM)

No, Stern hates fighting - it's the one thing that he goes overboard about. The Artest Melee was the worst moment of his tenure other than Magic getting HIV. He wants to eliminate all traces of fighting. The problem is that this is a physical game and stuff is going to happen sometimes... you can't expect these guys not to get mad every once in awhile.

Jason (Los Angeles, CA)

I think Isiah's next job will be president of the WNBA. That way he can make that sport totally unwatchable like his Knicks...oh wait...

Bill Simmons
  (2:33 PM)

You're right. it's the logical conclusion of a storied career.

Danirl (NYC)

How much do you wish Lamar Thomas (a la FIU v. Miami fame) was broadcasting Saturday night's game. "You come into our house, you should get your behind kicked. You don't come into the Garden playing that stuff. You can't come over to try and embarass us. We do that well enough on our own! You'll get your butt beat. I was about to go down the elevator to get in that thing."

Bill Simmons
  (2:34 PM)

That would have been great. I love the fact that poor Mike Breen was there... he's turning into the Zelig of basketball fights.

Chris, Seattle

and The fact that everyone makes such a big deal about an NBA brawl and not so much about a MLB brawl smacks of Racism, I don't care what people say.

Bill Simmons
  (2:35 PM)

Couldn't agree more. Everyone involved in this fight was black, so the players are now "out of control" and the whole thing is "a disgrace." But when a white baseball player charges a white pitcher, it's all in good fun. It's a little weird.

Steve; Los Angeles, CA

My solution: like your VP of common sense, there should be a Person With Common Sense sitting courtside at every game, who, when something like this happens runs onto the court and yells "YOU MAKE MILLIONS TO PLAY A GAME!!! YOU MAKE MILLIONS TO PLAY A GAME!!! BUY A BRAIN AND USE IT!!!" - I mean, if I make $3 million a year, I think I can let a hard foul roll off me pretty easily - can't I?

Bill Simmons
  (2:36 PM)

JR Smith did the same thing any other player would have done - the problem was that Nate Robinson came in and shoved him away... that started everything.

Paul: (Seattle, WA)

If Isiah is John Kreese, does that make 'Melo Ralph Macchio or Hilary Swank?

Bill Simmons
  (2:37 PM)

Melo was like Daniel-san, only if he did the Crane Kick then ran backwards 75 feet,

Josh (Fort Collins, CO)

Now that the Nuggets are losing Melo for 15 games, Do you think the team should try and land Iverson, or wait for Melo to come back?

Bill Simmons
  (2:39 PM)

I think they were crazy to go for Iverson anyway... wrong team, wrong coach, bad fit... probably worked out for the best. Melo is still in his "I'm the aplha dog, I shoot 28 times a game, I can be as good as LeBron and Wade!" phase... he doesn't want to defer to AI. Iverson needs to go to a place with an established veteran star who understands the value of having Allen Iverson on his team, whether it's Pierce, KG or whomever.

Patrick, Brockton

Wasn't the biggest upset of the whole fight that Marcus Camby didn't play a larger role?!?

Bill Simmons
  (2:40 PM)

I thought the biggest upset was Najera not getting involved - I was so disappointed, I've been waiting for 7-8 years to see what he would do in a brawl. He's one of the toughest guys in the league. I just pictured him pulling a Seagal on everyone on the court. They should have suspended him as well for not acting like a real enforcer.

Bill Simmons
  (2:41 PM)

The other disappointment was that Nene wasn't out there - he's 10X crazier than Nate Robinson. He would have ended up swinging Nate into the stands like a missile.

Drew (N.Y.)

I think the fight has made people in NY excited about the Knicks again -- I would bet that attendance goes up in what has been an otherwise pathetic attendance rate so far.

Bill Simmons
  (2:42 PM)

I would bet no on that one - my friends who go to Knicks games say that they're lying about the crowd. Sat. nite was listed as a "sellout" and it was supposedly half-full. When I went to the game two Wed's ago, it was maybe 3/5th's full.

Ryan Andover, MA

I think the bigger question in all of this is where was Early Boykins during all of this?

Bill Simmons
  (2:43 PM)

I think Earl and Nate should have been obligated to fight, kinda like in an NHL brawl where the 2 goalies feel obligated to throw down. That would have been the greatest fight ever.

Matthew, Orlando

Do you really think that people will remember this after a few years like they will with the Pacers/Pistons brawl? There hasn't been as much made about the fact that the fans on those fisrt few rows got crushed.

Bill Simmons
  (2:45 PM)

One of the people who almost got crushed was famous screenwriter Bill Goldman - he was 2 feet from the fight. Imagine if a famous person was squashed to death by Nate Robinson? The Isiah Era has really been amazing.

Rick H. (Selah, Wa.)

I'm kind of surprised Isiah didn't jump in and start swinging at someone. You can just see the tension in his face. He's nearing his boiling point with this team. I'd like to bet on when he finally snaps and goes Woody Hayes on someone.

Bill Simmons
  (2:46 PM)

He was going to randomly strangle his own trainer but couldn't find the guy in time.

Dave, College Station, TX

How was Spike Lee not involved in this melee at all?? What were the odds of that??

Bill Simmons
  (2:47 PM)

It happened right near his seats, too! I think he was in the bathroom throwing up after another 20-point Knicks loss.

Mike (Garwood NJ)

How much would you pay to see Stern ask Isiah...DID YOU ORDER THE CODE RED?!?!?

Bill Simmons
  (2:47 PM)

At least 500 dollars.

Brian, NYC

With regards to Boykins/Robinson fight, Nate was an NFL-caliber corner at Washington (and actually tackled people, not just a Deion cover-corner), have to give him the edge in that fight.

Bill Simmons
  (2:49 PM)

I'll tell ya, I'd give Nate the edge in almost any fight. He's quick and angry and has a low level of gravity... how could anyone take him? He's like Mike Tyson in the late-80's. When I was growing up, one of the toughest guys in the league was Clavin Murphy, who was 5-foot-9 anf got in fights all the time - he coldcocked Sidney Wicks on the Celtics once. Wicks was like 6-foot-9. We really need somebody to make a "Top 100 NBA Fights" show. Name one friend in your life who wouldn't watch this.

Charles (Miami)

Bill, your arguments are so weak. First of all, it was a sucker punch (i.e. Collins didnt know it was coming so he could protect himself). Second, how are you gonna tell me Carmelo slapped him, not punched him. Its crystal clear on replay. Third, you are obviously a Knick hater if you're proud of Karl for leaving his guys in like that. No class whatsoever. 15 games is harsh, but Stern as he always does, is sending a message.

Bill Simmons
  (2:51 PM)

Look, that wasn't a sucker punch. A sucker punch is when you punch someone who doesn't see you throwing the punch - like when Kareem broke his hand decking Kent Benson 30 years ago. Not only did Collins see Melo the whole time, he was moving around a group of people to get to him and calling him out. Watch the tape. Don't talk trash and not expect people to react.

Peter (Gastonia, North Carolina)

I just finished watching the tape of the fight for the eighteenth time, and I finally found the third referee...Art Shell!

Bill Simmons
  (2:52 PM)

Good one.

Hoss (Austin)

Would you please chastise the yahoo "fans" who booed Scalabrine the other night with the C's up 16 in the 2nd quarter. Shameful.

Bill Simmons
  (2:53 PM)

This is supposed to be a chat about the fight, but I had to mention this: All the Boston fans booing Scalabrine need to stop. He sucked last year and he's been really good this year, the guy's busting his butt every game. Nobody on the Celtics should be booed. They're all playing hard. End of story. back to the chat...

Brian (Denver, CO)

Stern has lost control of the league. His punishments were aimed from the bottom up. The punishments need to start at the top and make the coaches who are condoning these actions more accountable.

Bill Simmons
  (2:54 PM)

I think Stern has gone off the deep end a little - he's a little drunk with power, if this we're Scarface, we're nearing the scene where he flies off the handle and shoots Manny. Everything that happened with the new ball was embarrassing.

Jon (Hartford, CT)

Though I previously thought Denver might be the toughest team in the NBA (see Najera, J.R. Smith, "Stop Snitchin'," and Kenyon)...I'm starting to think that the title should belong to the Wiz. I mean, DeShawn Stevenson, Caron Butler, Darius Songalia (representing the Eastern European countries), and "Zero Hero" (an absolute nut-job). Thoughts?

Bill Simmons
  (2:56 PM)

That's an interesting topic. I'd have to say the toughest team is probably Minny - KG by himself could win a bench-clearing brawl. And they have Ricky Davis, Eddie Griffin, Mike James, Troy Hudson...

Kevin (Columbus, Ohio)

What are the fantasy ramifications of these suspensions? Hold on to 'Melo? He'll miss 20% of the season now.

Bill Simmons
  (2:56 PM)

It's a fantasy apocalypse. You just lost your best player for 4 weeks.

Gus (Cold Spring Harbor, NY)

While Karl was trying to get under Isiah's skin, he is absolutely entitled to play whoever he wants on the floor at any time of the game. Denver has blown late leads this season and the Knicks have come back many times from huge gaps (only to fall short). Incidentally, can this team be any worse if Spike Lee took over?

Bill Simmons
  (2:57 PM)

Absolutely. You know what's embarrassing, Isiah? The fact that your team keeps losing at home by 20 points every game. Stop blaming the other teams.

Yogi(NY)

My favorite line was Isiah saying "we had already surrendered." In a city where "it 'aint over till its over" was he referring to the game or the season? Thank God for Isiah Thomas!

Bill Simmons
  (2:59 PM)

I loved that as well - also liked when he talked about how they were being embarrassed in front of "their fans." Um, your fans hate this team, isiah. Hear that booing sound every game? That means they're unhappy. Everyone who follows this team is hoping you get fired. That's more embarrassing than george Karl leaving his starters in, I think.

Matt (Philly, PA)

Are we seriously going to complain in professional sports about running up a score? If you don't like it, don't have a team out there that can't play a lick, the Knicks should lose by 50 everynight against anyone, except my Sixers who will shortly not be my Sixers once AI is gone.

Bill Simmons
  (2:59 PM)

Hear hear.

Jon (Boston)

I can stand beside Things I think are right And I can stand beside The idea of stand and fight And I do believe There?s a dream for everyone This is our country From the east coast To the west coast Down the Dixie Highway Back home This is our country I guess they took these words to heart

Nati: (Laurel, MD)

I don't think I can let you get away with this one. You said that Nate Robinson had a "low level of gravity". Like the moon? You may have meant "low center of gravity". Wow.

Bill Simmons
  (2:59 PM)

Come on, it's a chat, I'm typing at warp speed. Cut me some slack.

Matt (Detroit)

Thanks Denver/NY. Now I had to put up with another weekend of watching the Pistons/Pacers fight. Will it ever go away?

Bill Simmons
  (3:00 PM)

Probably not. The funny thing is everyone keeps calling it a "brawl" - no punches were thrown in the Indy-Detroit fight. Wallace shoved Artest, Artest lay on the table and that was that. That wasn't a brawl, it was a fracas.

Bill Nye (NY)

Well he probably has a low level of gravity as well since its proportionate to his mass, and he's about 160 soaking wet. I've got your back Simmons.

Bill Simmons
  (3:01 PM)

thanks bill nye!

Aaron D Portland Me

I was kinda disappointed that Isiah didnt get punched by one of his own players

Bill Simmons
  (3:01 PM)

there's still time

john (nyc)

How much do you pay to see Isiah and OJ to interview each other on Sundance's Iconoclasts?

Bill Simmons
  (3:01 PM)

700 dollars.

Charles (Miami)

I think what everybody's missing from the Carmelo suspension is what could've happend had that punch done real damage (ala Rudy T). Luckily, he hits like girl and Collins is fine. Otherwise, 15 games would be charity.

Bill Simmons
  (3:03 PM)

And that's the reason he got the suspension. Look, I'm fine with Melo getting 15 games, but then Isiah should get 15, so should Mardy Collins, so should Nate and so should JR Smith. To say that what Melo did was worse than anyone else is crazy. He was defending his teammate and made a mistake.

Matt (DC)

At what point do the Knicks call up Whoopi Goldberg? Surely she must've learned some basketball on the set of "Eddie." Maybe the Knicks should reward season-ticket holders who actually show up for games by letting them coach for a night. Can't be any worse than it is already, and it'd be great PR: "Coach the Knicks for a day! Have a better winning percentage than Isaiah!"

Bill Simmons
  (3:04 PM)

I think we're almost there. And you know what? After the Isiah Era, the plot from "Eddie" doesn't seem so improbable anymore. All right, I'm out - thanks for everyone who sent in questions and don't say anything to make Nate Robinson angry!