Billy Hunter interview on Carmelo Anthony Suspension
The NBA Monday afternoon handed down suspensions for Saturday's fight between various Knicks and Nuggets players. Carmelo Anthony was given 15 games, Nate Robinson and J.R. Smith 10, Mardy Collins six, Jared Jeffries four, and Nene and Jerome James were each given one game for leaving the bench. Monday night in Madison Square Garden InsideHoops.com editor Jeff Lenchiner met with NBA Players Association Executive Director Billy Hunter for an exclusive interview about the situation.
InsideHoops.com: Your reaction when you first heard the length of the suspensions?
Billy Hunter: I kind of expected it. I expected, as a matter of fact I predicted he's going to impose about 15 to 20 games. And he imposed 15. I don't support it, I don't agree with it. Once we've concluded our business with Carmelo [Anthony] and his agent, in all probability there'll probably be an appeal. But I think what will also happen with the appeal is, the appeal will affect the other suspensions that have been imposed that we can't challenge because they're less than 12 games. So if I'm successful in getting Carmelo's reduced, it'll have a corresponding impact on these other guys so that, minimally, they will probably get back a portion of the money, so if there's a reduction in the number of games they'll get the money back. So that's the way we're trying to address the entire situation.
InsideHoops.com: So if Carmelo's suspension is lowered, it would automatically help make the other suspensions also get lowered? They're tied together?
Billy Hunter: No, they're not. They aren't, but they are. What I'm saying to you is, if you're able to reduce Carmelo's, in a situation where he got the stiffest penalty because his conduct was considered to be the most egregious, then it thereby stands to reason that the others have to then dissipate in terms of measure.
InsideHoops.com: Now, the actual numbers each got in relation to the others, and the choice of players in terms of magnitude of suspensions, do you think that was correct? In terms of who got the most, who got the second most, etc.?
Billy Hunter: No, I did not agree. I'm not going to tell you what I thought because that's not my job to indicate what would be appropriate. I just think that in each instance, the fines that were imposed were excessive, maybe probably with the exception of Nene and Jerome [James] simply because we have a rule that says you can't go on the court anytime there's a fight. So if you go on the court there's a one game suspension, which is what they got. But beyond that, I don't agree with the punishments that were imposed. We [Hunter and Knicks legend Cal Ramsey] were just talking about Jared Jeffries, and I think it was excessive in his case as well.
InsideHoops.com: As for Jared, he ran but I didn't see him actually...
Billy Hunter: Well what he was doing most of the time, he was spending time pulling people away. Based upon what I've seen in the film. Trying to separate the various players. And I think except in the end, there's a segment where he is going down the court or something after somebody, and somebody's pulling his shirt trying to stop him, and I think that's about it.
InsideHoops.com: Yeah, early on he did what you said, and then at the end he didn't succeed in what he was trying to do when running at Melo.
Billy Hunter: I never saw what he tried to do, because the film that I saw, it cut off here [Hunter points towards centercourt], so I didn't get the rest of the film that showed him going down the other half of the court. All I saw was them pulling him here, and, the NBA sent me a copy of the film for me to view. So when I viewed it, everything involving Jeffries stopped at that part of the court, the Knicks side. So if he did something on this side, I don't have any idea what it was.
InsideHoops.com: And J.R. Smith, who for at least part of this was a victim. He held off for at least a little while before he finally went off. What did you think of his actions?
Billy Hunter: No, I've indicated to you that I think all of the penalties imposed were beyond what was necessary.