The fight at the end of the Miami-New York playoff game capped a season of misbehavior in the NBA that included many fines and suspensions, although it was not the worst on record.
The transgressions ranged from fighting, spitting on a fan, making obscene gestures and verbally abusing the referees to players wearing their shorts too long.One incident, however, sets this season apart: the attack by Latrell Sprewell of the Golden State Warriors against his coach, P.J. Carlesimo.
Sprewell had his contract terminated by the team and was suspended by the NBA for one year for the choking attack at practice on Dec. 1. An arbitrator later reduced that penalty and reinstated Sprewell's contract, although he ended up missing 68 games at a cost of $6.4 million in lost salary.
The heaviest year in terms of fines and suspensions was in 1995-96, when 57 players were punished, 62 player-games were lost and $475,000 in fines were assessed.
One item worth noting: Despite all the fines and suspensions handed out this season, no league punishment was given to Dennis Rod-man.
Here is a breakdown of punishments for the preseason, regular season and playoffs so far (This does not include fines and suspensions handed out by individual teams, nor does it tally players' lost salary due to game suspensions):
NUMBER OF TIMES A PLAYER WAS SUSPENDED OR FINED: 57 (plus two incidents involving coaches).
GAMES MISSED: 45 (if Sprewell's suspension is included, the total is 113).
FINES LEVIED: $368,000.