By Ben Golliver
"There are no circumstances in which it is acceptable for a player to confront an opponent after a game," the NBA's Executive Vice President Basketball Operations Stu Jackson said in a statement. "Carmelo Anthony attempted to engage with Kevin Garnett multiple times after Monday's game and therefore a suspension was warranted."
Anthony will serve his suspension during Thursday night's game against the Pacers in Indianapolis. The All-Star forward is earning $20.5 million this season; a one-game suspension without pay will cost him roughly $186,000 in salary.
The league office has not announced any punishment for Garnett.
Anthony pursued Garnett after Boston's 102-96 victory on Monday night. The two players engaged in some rough play and trash talk on the court, earning double technical fouls during the fourth quarter, before Anthony sought out Garnett at the Celtics' locker room and team bus to continue the conversation after the game. CSNNE.com captured video of Anthony waiting by the Celtics' bus with a number of security guards standing in between him and the door as Boston's players loaded up after the game. Anthony did not meet with reporters after Monday's game and Garnett downplayed the events as "heat of the battle" fare.
On Tuesday, Anthony told reporters that Garnett had crossed a line in his trash talking, the Associated Press reported, and that he didn't believe his actions warranted a suspension.
”There’s certain things that you just don’t say to men, another man,” Anthony said. ”I felt like we crossed a line, but like I said, we both have an understanding right now, we handled it the way we handled it. Nobody needs to know what was said behind closed doors, so that situation was handled.”
"Nothing happened for me to be suspended,'' he said. "I wanted to talk to KG. I think it was something we both needed to get off our chest and see what really the problem was. No altercations, it was just some words and a conversation that we needed to have.''
"It's over with for me. Whatever happened last night, happened. The words that was being said between me and Garnett, it happened, can't take that away,'' Anthony said. "I lost my cool yesterday, I accept that, but there's just certain things that push certain people's buttons.''
The Associated Press reported on Monday night that Garnett didn't see anything unusual with the exchanges.
"Listen, heat of the battle, man. Guys go back and forth. He's trying to get his team to go, I'm trying to get my team to go, both teams are colliding, not to mention that it's the Knicks and the Celtics," Garnett said. "Just what it is, man."
The New York Daily News reported Monday that Garnett was unsure why Anthony was waiting for him by the bus and that Knicks coach Mike Woodson helped defuse the situation.
ESPNNY.com reported Tuesday that Anthony and Garnett communicated "over the phone following the bus incident" to hash out their differences.
The one-game suspension here seems appropriate. The NBA needed to send a message that seeking out a post-game confrontation is unacceptable. While nothing popped off here, there is certainly the potential for volatility if heated words are directly exchanged after a game. Anthony definitely handled the aftermath well, making the best of a bad situation by taking responsibility for his actions, offering a fairly rational explanation for why he reacted so unusually, and expressing a willingness to bury the drama and move forward. That he wasn't obstinate or looking for further beef likely helped his case with the league office and ensured that his punishment didn't extend to a multi-game suspension. Video via CSNNE and YouTube user CripwalkinK