Just To Review

Andrew Bynum fouls Gerald Wallace in what was an obviously unintentional but still reckless foul, and puts him in the hospital.

He is not suspended.

Trevor Ariza comes up behind Rudy Fernandez, swipes at his head during an attempt to make a play on the ball. Fernandez lays on the deck for a long period of time before making it to the locker room.

He is not suspended.

Rajon Rondo punches Brad Miller in the mouth. Miller bleeds from the mouth and subsequently misses two incredibly crucial free throws. After the game, Rondo admits he was not going for the ball but instead was going to foul Miller.

He is not suspended.

In the following game, Rajon Rondo becomes entangled with Kirk Hinrich in a rebound attempt around the arc. Rondo elects, after getting away with the Miller foul, swings Hinrich around which results in Hinrich making contact with the scorer’s table.

He is not suspended.

Dwight Howard and Samuel Dalembert are locked up in a tangle following a shot attempt in a crucial playoff game. While turning, Howard makes contact with the side of Dalembert’s head with his elbow, obviously intentionally, but with very little impact. Dalembert is not noticeably hurt, only noticeably offended and outraged.

He is suspended.

Derek Fisher overestimates how much force he’s going to need to knock over the much larger Luis Scola, who flies backwards to the ground.

Fisher is suspended.

Rafer Alston lightly slaps Eddie House on the back of the head after House, for the upteenth time, is preening to the crowd. This certainly doesn’t warrant such unsportsmanlike behavior from Alston, who was ejected. Which makes sense. Any further punishment means that intentional contact that results in injury is not as sever as intentional contact that puts Eddie House’s mile long mouth in its place.

He is suspended.

Kobe Bryant elbows Ron Artest in the throat/chest/shoulder/cockles of his heart.

He is not suspended.

I made a plea for bloggers not to blame referees or unnecessarily make officiating the crux of a game post in the playoffs. Some agreed, many didn’t, all had a good point. My quarrel is not necessarily with the officials who made these initial calls.

It’s with the seemingly random and arbitrary execution of the rules. It’s with the double standards, or lack of really any standard.

I hear a lot from bloggers (Skeets in particular, but many others) that you can’t consider the effects of the foul or incident in judging it. While I understand that from an impartiality and logic perspective, I strongly disagree. Rafer Alston’s slap was unprofessional and worthy of an ejection. It also caused House no harm, and if my momma saw me preening like that on national television? She’d slap me on the back of my head so fast it’d make my headband fall off. Oh. Yet that is not as bad as a foul that resulted in Miller bleeding from the mouth before crucial free throws. Amare and Diaw (yes, we’re back here, I’ll make it quick) stand up and take two steps, and they are suspended. Kobe Bryant elbows a dude in the throat, no biggie. When we break down these things to acts that exist outside of a sterile, neutral environment, the decisions make no sense.

Big note here. I’m not saying Bryant should be suspended. And while I think Rondo probably should have been popped for one of the offenses, I’m fine with the league’s decision to let it slide. But to punish the less dangerous, less severe incidents and then excuse the other actions is a little irrational, yes?

The conclusion I come to is not that we have to suspend any of these individuals. We’re not two steps away from a brawl because Artest got up in Kobe’s face. Howard’s elbow wasn’t THE PUNCH. Miller was only a 79% free throw shooter in that series anyway. Fisher wasn’t going to cave in Scola’s sternum. Everyone throws elbows. And Kirk Hinrich went to Kansas. He had it coming. Okay, that one he should have been suspended for. But you can excuse not suspending him for that if you don’t suspend the others. But what the league has done is created a perception that an act that injures a player isn’t excessive, but one that looks bad or is unprofessional is worthy of a suspension.

If Howard turns in Game 3 and caves in Perkins’ face, that’s going to warrant a suspension. If Artest goes into that special place he frequented when he was younger, yeah, that’s going to be a few games. But what we have right now is a system that has rewarded contact that resulted in injury and punished behavior that was in poor taste.

How French. Even when I get rid of Parker…

Matt Moore

Matt Moore is a Senior NBA Blogger for CBSSports.com's Eye on Basketball blog, weekend editor of Pro Basketball Talk on NBCSports.com, and co-editor of Voice on the Floor. He lives in Kansas City due to an unbelievably complex set of circumstances and enjoys mid-90's pop rock, long walks on the beach and the novels of Tim Sandlin.