It's not just the Dallas media saying that the Mavs and Stackhouse got hosed by the NBA...
Stackhouse suspension unfairly punishes Mavericks - Dave Krieger, Rocky Mountain News
Stackhouse suspension clearly an overreaction - John Jackson, Chicago Sun-Times
Mavs right to cry foul on this one
Kevin Blackistone, DMN - June 17, 2006
MIAMI – You would think a guy who coached Charles Oakley for two seasons knows the difference between a hard foul and a dirty foul. But NBA disciplinarian Stu Jackson does not.
Friday afternoon Jackson kicked Jerry Stackhouse out of what on Sunday already threatened to be the most pivotal contest in these NBA Finals because of the foul Stackhouse handed Shaquille O'Neal in the Heat's singeing of the Mavericks on Thursday in Game 4.
This is one time Mark Cuban will be absolutely correct in screaming bloody murder about an officiating decision concerning his team.
After all, the veteran referees, including the highly respected Dick Bavetta, who called Thursday's game and couldn't help but miss Stackhouse leveling Shaq on a two-on-one fast break, tagged Stackhouse with a flagrant foul but did not feel compelled to toss him from the floor. Shaq, 7-1 and threehundredsomething pounds, dismissed the collision after the game, comparing it to being tackled by his daughters.
Pat Riley did compare it to James Posey's rundown of Chicago's Kirk Hinrich, which drew a one-game suspension for Posey during the Heat's first-round series. But there appeared no intent from Posey in that incident other than to knock Hinrich silly.
The only thing excessive about the Stackhouse incident is the penalty imposed by Jackson.
Now these NBA Finals, which just started living up to the promise from what has been an absolutely spectacular postseason, are marred, or at least Game 5 will be. Put an asterisk next to this one.
In hindsight, maybe Stackhouse shouldn't have raced back to try and stop Shaq. Maybe it was just one of many mental meltdowns for the Mavericks on Thursday night, like the Josh Howard turnover that led to the event. The Mavericks were down 17 then, but it was just midway through the third quarter.
All Stackhouse was doing was trying to thwart an easy basket, which is what you're supposed to do at this time in the season. Had he been in a Heat uniform, you can bet Riley would've applauded his attention to detail and Cuban would've sounded Riley's charge. That's the way it goes.
But now Stackhouse won't be around for Game 5 because one guy overruled the officials and decided Stackhouse's foul was over the top.
This isn't Jason Terry being tossed during the San Antonio series. The rules are clear on that one. Throw a punch, no matter how weak, and you get a game off.
This isn't DJ Mbenga getting a six-game suspension for checking on the well-being of Mrs. Avery Johnson, Cassandra, in the Phoenix stands. The rules are clear on that one, too. Any player who goes into the stands will be suspended.
The decision on Stackhouse was subjective, unnecessarily so.
It isn't like Stackhouse has, as NBA czar David Stern said once of Ron Artest, some previous pernicious history. He has a reputation in this league as a scorer, a selfish scorer, which he's proven in Dallas, by the way, to be untrue. He has a reputation as a tough player, a fearless one. He did unfortunately fracture Joe Johnson's face on a great block last season.
But Stackhouse as a ruffian? No.
This is one instance where the NBA would do itself well to borrow a page from FIFA, the folks who sanction the World Cup and issue yellow cards for excessive contact. Two and you're gone.
The NBA has a point system for flagrant fouls. A flagrant 1, which is what the referees gave Stackhouse, is worth one point. A flagrant 2, which is what Jackson upgraded the foul to, is worth two points. A player who tallies at least three points is automatically suspended, kind of like a soccer player who gets a second yellow card.
Guess who is walking that thin line right now? Dirk Nowitzki. He has two points. Who said Dirk is soft? One more and he'll have to sit. Obviously, the Mavericks can't afford that.
But they can't afford losing Stackhouse, either, their only punch (oops, poor choice of words here) off the bench. He's been as valuable to this team as anyone.
This could work out in an odd way. The Mavericks could respond like an aggrieved group, rallying around the hole in their lineup and playing out of their heads. They weren't, however, able to do that when Terry got tossed.
This could get them hopping mad by the time Stackhouse comes back in Dallas. But by then, it could be too late.
If it looked in the last five quarters like it is getting easier for the Heat, it just got that much easier. The Mavericks got robbed.