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Stackhouse Suspended Two Games; NBA Threatens Tougher Punishment

March 22, 1996

NEW YORK (AP) _ Jerry Stackhouse was given a two-game suspension and $7,500 fine, penalties that might seem light if the spate of NBA fights keeps up.

The NBA warned its players Thursday to stop fighting or face heavier fines and longer suspensions. Three players were suspended in the last four days for aggressive behavior, and suspensions are up 300 percent over last year.

``Hopefully, this is an aberration and we can get back to business and not have this craziness continue,″ said Rod Thorn, NBA vice president responsible for handing out penalties. ``Obviously, we don’t like it when altercations are up and, if we have to, you’ll see the fines and suspensions increase.″

The NBA has handed down 39 different suspensions this season for flagrant fouls, violent confrontations and leaving benches during fights.

In 1992-93, there were 11 suspensions. The following season, the number swelled to 27, prompting the league to increase fines and penalties for leaving the benwater ch to join a scuffle. The stiffer punishment seemed to work, and suspensions fell to 13 last season and ``only one player was hit with a punch, period,″ Thorn said.

Stackhouse, of the Philadelphia 76ers, was suspended for two games and fined $7,500 for punching and grabbing Utah’s Jeff Hornacek by the throat during a game Wednesday night.

``I regret the whole situation,″ Stackhouse said. ``I was wrong, but it was just the heat of the moment. I wish I could have it all back, but I can’t.″

On Tuesday night, Vancouver’s Greg Anthony and New Jersey’s Shawn Bradley squared off after stumbling over each other while going for a loose ball. Anthony punched the Nets center in the stomach, and Bradley grabbed Anthony.

``I’m not going to be taken advantage of,″ Bradley said ``I’m not going to say, `I’m going to go out and look for fights,′ but I’m not going to back down. I mean, if somebody’s throwing a punch at me, I’m going to do my best not to let it happen and make sure it doesn’t happen again.″

Bradley was not punished, but Anthony was suspended for one game and fined $5,000.

It was the second straight Nets game disrupted by an altercation that turned physical.

On Monday, Thorn suspended Chicago’s Dennis Rodman for six games and fined him $20,000 for head-butting referee Ted Bernhardt during a game with the Nets last Saturday. Rodman also shouted obscenities and kicked over a cooler before leaving the court.

Thorn was in the stands that night and witnessed the spectacle.

This season, however, things got out of hand right away. Because the league locked out its regular officials in a contract dispute, replacement referees worked the exhibitions and first five weeks of regular-season games.

``Part of it has to do with starting the season with replacement officials, who didn’t get the respect from the players and coaches that the regular refs did,″ Thorn said. ``Of the 39 suspensions, 28 happened when we had replacement refs. We got off to a bad start that way.″

Bradley was involved in an altercation with Toronto’s Oliver Miller in an Oct. 14 exhibition game. Miller was suspended for the first game of the regular season.

Washington’s Chris Webber and Chicago’s Luc Longley threw punches at each other in a game Oct. 17, Miami’s Matt Geiger was suspended for a flagrant foul on Shaquille O’Neal a week later, and New York’s Charles Oakley drew a one-game suspension for throwing a punch at Philadelphia’s Scott Williams. And that was just the preseason.

The regular season was barely a week old when the Pacers and Kings were involved in the ugliest incident of the season, a bench-clearing brawl at Indianapolis that led to the suspensions of 16 players for a total of 18 games and $80,000 in fines.

December featured two fights and one player shoving a referee, and January included one fight and three fines for abusing the referees. February was marked by two fights, two flagrant elbows and three fines for making obscene gestures or slamming the basketball at the feet of a referee.

March mayhem also included the one-game suspension of Seattle’s Gary Payton for head-butting Orlando’s Joe Wolf last Tuesday.

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