19 12 2007

Pink Slip for Thomas? Fan Says Sign Right Here

While the Knicks have cracked down recently on hecklers and holders of opinionated signs inside Madison Square Garden, they probably cannot influence a demonstration outside the building that will urge the dismissal of Isiah Thomas, the team’s coach and president.

The rally, organized by a Long Island dentist who said he has been a Knicks fan for more than a half-century, will begin at 11 a.m. Wednesday on the Seventh Avenue side of the building and will include a pink slip that is eight feet tall and four feet wide.

The professionally printed message on the pink sign will urge James L. Dolan, the Garden’s chairman, to fire Thomas, whose team is 7-17 going into Wednesday night’s game with Cleveland. Protest organizers said two people will hold up the sign in a manner that will allow supporters to sign it.

The dentist, Dr. Art G. Nathan of Freeport, N.Y., said the idea of having a protest began a few days ago and crystallized after the Knicks lost, 119-92, on Monday night to Indiana. Late in that game, a fan with a “Fire Isiah” sign was peacefully moved out of a seat behind the team bench

Last week, during a Knicks loss to Seattle, a man a few rows behind Thomas said he was handed a printed warning from a security guard because he was heckling Thomas, although he was not using profanity.

The fan ordered from his seat Monday for wielding the “Fire Isiah” sign identified himself Tuesday as Jason Silverstein, a real estate agent who lives in Manhattan and said he goes to every home game and sits near the court, but not always in the same seat.

Silverstein, 23, said he played high school basketball in New Jersey and sponsors a summer basketball team at Rucker Park in Harlem.

“The guy is killing our team,” Silverstein said of Thomas. “How many 25-point beatings can we take?”

Silverstein said he carried some blank posterboard into the Garden on Monday night, intending to make a sign with a dark marker. Security guards confiscated it at halftime, even though nothing was written on it, he said.

Near the end of the game, Silverstein said, he made an impromptu sign by writing on a disposable food tray. After he held it up for about 45 seconds, he said, security guards said: “Get up. You’re going. You’re out.” Silverstein said he cooperated because, “I didn’t want to cause a ruckus.”

For Wednesday’s rally, in addition to the pink slip, Nathan said his group will carry picket signs with messages like “Save the Knicks,” “Dump Isiah,” “Give Him the Pink Slip” and “Restore Knicks Pride.”

“I’m getting disgusted,” said Nathan, who is 67. “And James Dolan is not going to do a darn thing. We hope we have thousands of people. It’ll be a beautiful sight to see.”

The group has told the Police Department that the demonstration will probably include about 15 people, said Officer Martin Brown, a police spokesman, and last for about 30 minutes.

Nathan said he had followed the team since “the McGuire boys at the old Garden,” and added that his group would conduct its demonstration behind a police barricade.

“They are perfectly within their rights,” said Brown, who added that a permit would be needed only for a large number of people or use of a sound system.

Jonathan Supranowitz, a Knicks spokesman, said the team had no comment about the proposed demonstration.

Supranowitz had more to say about Silverstein’s “Fire Isiah” sign. Supranowitz said Silverstein was in a section where seats sell for $330 and had a valid ticket. His sign was removed, Supranowitz said, because it might have blocked the view of other spectators.

Supranowitz said security guards escorted the man to the corridor behind the seats and watched him walk away, but did not eject him. Supranowitz said the heckling and sign-waving recently directed against Thomas are “not against the law, it’s just against our policy.”

The policy, which is detailed on the Web site, said in part that “signs may not be derogatory in any manner” and “they cannot block the view of other guests.” Violators, the policy said, can have their sign confiscated and may face ejection.

Supranowitz said the Knicks would not reveal how many fans have had signs confiscated recently, how many have been warned about heckling, or how many have been ejected for violating either policy.

The heckler who was warned last week, Michael Katz, an accountant from Westchester County, was not ejected and voluntarily moved to another seat.

The card he was handed read, in part, “You are being issued a warning that the comments, gestures and/or behaviors that you have directed at players, coaches, game officials and/or other spectators constitute excessive verbal abuse.”

Of course, in addition to the actions and words of individuals, fans as a group have chanted “Fire Isiah” during recent defeats.


They’ve never been good at rules anyhow…

25 10 2007

Stern says refs broke gambling policies, but will change rules rather than issue punishments

By BRIAN MAHONEY, AP Basketball Writer
October 25, 2007NEW YORK (AP) — David Stern acknowledged Thursday that more than half of his 56 referees had violated NBA policies about casino gambling, but said none will be punished because he felt the rules were outdated.

Instead, Stern said he is altering the policies, leaning toward allowing referees to gamble in casinos during the offseason — except for betting in sports books.

The league’s strict gambling policies toward referees became public after the Tim Donaghy scandal. The NBA currently prevents its officials from entering the gaming area of a casino, or doing any betting at all except for going to race tracks during the offseason.

But Stern admitted he did a poor job of enforcing the policies, and with views toward gambling changing, decided he wouldn’t “penalize people for behavior that I’m about to change.”

“It’s too easy to issue rules that are on their faith violated by $5 Nassau, sitting at a poker table, buying a lottery ticket and then we can move along,” Stern said after wrapping up the league’s Board of Governors meetings. “And by the time I got through and I determined going into a casino isn’t a capital offense … I’m the CEO of the NBA and I’ll take responsibility.”

Stern also said Stu Jackson and Ronnie Nunn, in charge of monitoring officiating, will both have their roles altered. But he stressed they were being “expanded” rather than demotions — even though Jackson’s job now will be divided between two people and the league will be “cutting down on some of (Nunn’s) other responsibilities.”

The commissioner stressed there is still no indication that any other officials were involved in illegal gambling activity, but practically all of them violated a league policy that Stern called “too harsh.” That included anything from buying lottery tickets to taking part in poker games, betting on college football or taking part in NCAA tournament pools.

Stern ordered a review of the league’s entire officiating program after Donaghy pleaded guilty to betting on games he worked and providing information to others to help them win bets. Though the investigation being conducted by former federal prosecutor Lawrence Pedowitz can’t be completed until the federal investigation of Donaghy is wrapped up, it has already sparked some changes.

Stern said the league likely will begin listing the names of the crew of referees the morning of the game, and steps will be taken to admit when officiating mistakes were made.

Then there are the changes with Jackson and Nunn, who both came under fire after the scandal broke.

Jackson, the league’s executive vice president of basketball operations, will remain in that area, but sometime this season the league will hire a full-time referee operations executive. Jackson will continue to hand out on-court discipline and deal with many of the league’s international ventures, but will give up his referee responsibilities.

Nunn, the director of officials, will spend more time on the road training younger officials. The league already has hired Bernie Fryer, who retired last season, to deal with the crew chiefs. Stern said Nunn told him that “it’s more valuable for him to be on the road than to do his television show.”

“We are broadening and taking more responsibility and we are doing it with the people that we have and we’re going to add to them,” Stern said, “but certainly it’s not a reduction of responsibility.”

Stern also reiterated that he is not currently considering any action toward Knicks coach Isiah Thomas or Madison Square Garden chairman James Dolan in the aftermath of the ruling against them in a sexual harassment suit brought by former team executive Anucha Browne Sanders.

The trial did bring another change, however. All team personnel now will be required to set and meet minimum standards regarding sensitivity training and respect in the workplace.

The board heard what “wasn’t a very uplifting report” about the situation in Seattle, where there has been no progress on funding for a new arena that would keep the SuperSonics in the city. Stern called himself an optimist but said his “optimism is waning” when it comes to the team’s future there.

Donaghy’s sentencing has been delayed until January, and Stern said he expects to learn further details about what the former referee did or didn’t do, such as making calls to affect games, if he cooperates with investigators. But Stern dismissed the notion that this season is more important than any other because of the scrutiny the league has been under since the summer.

“We evolve, we respond, we grow,” he said.

Beware of Paint

10 10 2007

San Antonio Express News

-Mike MonroeThe Spurs received their annual preseason briefing from league referees after their morning practice at the AT&T Center.

Steve Javie, one of the NBA’s top referees and the crew chief at Tuesday’s game, spoke to the players and coaches about plays and calls the officials have been instructed to emphasize this season, including an ongoing crackdown on traveling.

Another emphasis: More leeway for big men to defend smaller players who drive to the basket.

“They were talking about some stuff about the bigs not getting so many (foul) calls in the paint when we smalls drive into them,” said Spurs guard Manu Ginobili, who has benefited from his share of foul calls when driving to the basket.

NBA to use instant replay!

6 09 2007

Don’t get to excited:

In USA TODAY, Roscoe Nance writes “NBA referees this season will use instant replay to review flagrant foul Penalty Two calls and player altercations. The NBA Board of Governors last week approved the expanded use of instant replay on the recommendation of the league’s competition committee. In the past, instant replay was used automatically on baskets and personal fouls made with no time remaining on the clock at the end of a period in regulation or overtime.” Source:  Also See: USA Today

New Rules for 2008

17 06 2007

Suggestions for new rules for 2008:

Okay, the new basketball idea was stupid. Send us your ideas for new basketball rules for 2008.

Here’s one from North County Times:

Since the basket can’t be made smaller, maybe NBA commissioner David Stern could implement a rule penalizing players for taking more than two steps without dribbling. The refs would call it “traveling.” Nah, that wouldn’t work.