Nuggets F Anthony suspended 15 games

Updated: December 19, 2006, 1:44 AM ET
SportsTicker

NEW YORK - Carmelo Anthony will have a long time to think about his big mistake.

Anthony was one of seven players suspended by the NBA on Monday in the aftermath of the Denver Nuggets' brawl with the New York Knicks in the waning moments of Saturday's game at Madison Square Garden.

The league's leading scorer, Anthony was suspended 15 games for his role in the melee. Nuggets guard J.R. Smith and Knicks guard Nate Robinson each were suspended 10 games, while New York's Mardy Collins drew a six-game suspension.

Knicks forward Jared Jeffries was suspended four games. The NBA also suspended Denver forward Nene and New York center Jerome James one game each for leaving the bench during the incident. Both organizations were fined $500,000.

League commissioner David Stern announced the penalties at a teleconference Monday afternoon.

"The NBA and its players represent a game of extraordinary skill, athleticism and grace, and for good for bad, set an example for the entire basketball world on and off the court," Stern said. "While we have worked diligently to eliminate fighting from our game, there are failures such as Saturday night at Madison Square Garden. It is our obligation to take the strongest possible steps to avoid such failures in the future."

Collins touched off the brawl when he grabbed Smith around the neck and threw him to the court as the Nuggets swingman was attempting a breakaway layup in the closing minute of Denver's 123-100 victory.

Robinson was the third man in and began wrestling with Smith. The two players tumbled into the front row of seats along the baseline before being separated by teammates and officials. The episode seemed to be dying down before Anthony threw a punch which landed on Collins' face.

After throwing the punch, Anthony ran toward halfcourt and was followed by Jeffries, who also sprinted from the baseline but was tackled before he could reach the Denver superstar.

Stern undoubtedly must be disappointed with the ugly altercation, especially since it involved one of the NBA's young superstars and came at a time when the league still is trying to repair its image in the wake of the Pistons-Pacers brawl two years ago.

"We have set up the goal of eliminating fighting from out game," Stern said. "We have eliminated it to an extraordinary degree based on any historical basis, but we have not eliminated it completely. This will not be a lasting issue, because we are going to succeed at leading the way to eliminate fighting and violence from our game."

The 22-year-old Anthony has steadily improved since coming into the NBA in 2004-05 and is averaging a league-best 31.6 points per game in 22 games this season. The 6-8 forward also was Team USA's leading scorer last summer at the World Championships in Japan.

Although he indicated feelings of regret for Anthony's involvement, Stern clearly showed no sympathy in punishing one of the NBA's most marketable stars.

"We judged him on his actions on the court, period. They deserve the harsh penalties that have come down," Stern said. "As a personal matter, I think he's been doing great. I had the opportunity to tell him that myself when I met with him this summer.

"But that's separate and apart from how you have to deal with these failures to exercise the appropriate degree of self control. ... Obviously I'm hoping to meet with Carmelo. I fully expect that he'll be back in the rotation, and we'll do what we have to do to help develop his career over the very long time that remains in it. But he did what he did, and he has to accept the full responsibility for it."

The Knicks, who were suffering yet another embarrassing blowout loss at home, apparently took issue with the fact that the Nuggets still had their starters on the floor in the closing minutes of the rout.

Television replays appeared to show Knicks coach Isiah Thomas telling Anthony not to go to the basket, but Thomas said it was not a warning and shouldn't have been construed in a threatening manner.

"I didn't warn (Anthony). At that point in time, during the game he and Marcus (Camby) was in the game," Thomas said. "I just said to those guys that this isn't the way that you should act. This is the way you should be. You shouldn't be rubbing it in. But it wasn't a threat. It was more or less, this isn't how you do it.

"It wasn't necessarily not go to the basket. But basically, don't rub it in. It wouldn't be a good idea for you to rub it in and go to the basket and dunking on our guys. We're down 18, we're down 19. You don't need to act like that. Bascially show some class.

Denver caoch George Karl had a sharp response to Thomas' comments.

"He had his team pressing all over the court and they cut a 25-point lead to 10 points in a couple of minutes. He didn't throw in no towell," Karl said. "He had the same players out there. It's absurd, he's a jerk for what he's trying to do.

"I have a team that is trying to learn how to win on the road. We've lost 10- and 11-point leads. ... He's full of (crap) and should be held accountable."

As the fines to the organizations indicated, Stern made it clear Monday that teams also will be held accountable for incidents such as Saturday's.

"This is going to be a shared responsibility of 30 teams, 450 players, the representatives of the players and the commissioners and the league office," Stern said. "It is not going to be left just to me. It is going to be radiated to our teams, who are going to have to join me in sending the appropriate messages to all of their employees that this is not acceptable behavior."

This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index