I recently responded to some of the issues brought up in a thread on a Redskins general message board here. I thought the whole topic was pretty interesting, and it's still ongoing. My response was as follows:
The NBA is pretty strict about players leaving the bench during an altercation. Ever since the crazy event involving Ben Wallace and Ron Artest in Detroit, they've tried to cut down on the fighting and other things as much as possible.
I agree that it doesn't seem like a big deal for what Stoudemire and Diaw did, and using common sense would mean to just let them play because they didn't really do anything. But you know what? That's just the way it goes sometimes -- if you leave the bench, you leave yourself open to punishment.
I would love to see them allowed to play because the series has been great so far. The teams are very evenly matched, and now it seems like the series is in favor of the Spurs, but you just never know. If the Suns won somehow, I wouldn't be completely shocked. It's been a rough series so far, and game 5 will be huge.
Why are you disgusted with Greg Popovich though? What do you expect him to say, that he completely agrees with the punishment? He's standing up for his player, and Horry still loses 2 games for what he did, whether that's 1 more game than what's really needed. If you watched the Jazz-Warriors game, Mehmet Okur got absolutely slammed on the floor after going up for a layup, and no one was suspended for any games in that series. I'm actually glad to see a return of hard fouls unlike the last few years when it looked like a lot of players were afraid to hit someone too hard. Basketball is most definitely a contact sport, and it takes a lot of strength and determination to succeed in it. One of the more successful teams in NBA History was the Pistons teams known as the "Bad Boys." They weren't looking to win respect from opposing fans or coaches. They were looking to win games at all costs, and I think a lot of people have lost that mindset, whether it can be viewed as "good or bad."
I'd also like to comment on the seemingly endless ads for NBA Cares. I know they've been showing a lot of them, and sure a lot of it is PR crap. But the NFL does a ton of that stuff during the season, so it's really not that much different. With all of the negativity in the media for ALL sports, the leagues feel that the positives should also be viewed. I respect that no matter how it really looks.
Just to briefly comment on the whole players flopping and whining issue, I have to agree to a certain extent. I watch a ton of basketball, and there has definitely been an increase in the amount of players both "flopping" and complaining about calls. Officials are now more apt to call many charging calls, which weren't really that prevelant, say, 10-15 years ago. People have argued that players are bigger and faster now then they were then, and also that the game is quicker. That may be true. But some players these days are taught that it's easier to take a charge then go up to block a shot when they may just get called for a foul anyway. It's probably easier to take a charge then be a great shot blocker.
If you think about it, how many great shot blockers are left in the NBA now? Not really that many if you go through the league.
As far as complaining, that seems to be a trend that has increased in all sports, not just the NBA. It may seem more obvious in basketball because the calls, especially blocks vs. charges, aren't so cut and dried. Referees in the NBA really influence the game, and many players are just trying to get their point across to maybe get a call later in the game that can help their team win. It's pretty annoying, though, to see so many players who believe they've never actually committed a foul before. Even the widely respected Tim Duncan has his patented move of just staring at refs with his eyes wide open and occassinally just holding his arms out in disgust.
Either way, the playoffs have been great so far, and it would take a lot more than constant complaining from players to ruin the rest of the games.