EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- New Jersey forward
Clifford Robinson was suspended five games without pay by the NBA on Friday
after violating terms of the league's drug policy for the second
time in two seasons.
Robinson will miss at least the rest of the Eastern Conference
semifinals. His suspension began Friday night with the Nets' 103-92
loss to Miami in Game 3 of the best-of-seven series, and leaves New Jersey without
one of its possible options for defending Shaquille O'Neal.
Robinson was also suspended five games in February 2005 while
playing for Golden State. Under terms of last year's collective
bargaining agreement, a player would be suspended five games for a
third positive test for marijuana.
"Obviously we feel very badly about it from a team
standpoint," Nets president Rod Thorn said, "from an individual
standpoint for Cliff, who has been terrific for us since he's been
here and is one our leaders in our locker room and has been a very
good player for us. So on two counts, we feel very badly about
The news came as a surprise to the Nets, who learned of the
penalty at around noon -- after Robinson had already taken part in
the morning shootaround.
"We have to be extremely focused on the task at hand," Nets
coach Lawrence Frank said before the game. "We're going to make no
excuses for who have and who we are, and we're going to find a
To make matters worse for the Nets, they are not allowed to
replace Robinson on the roster, forcing them to play with only 11
players on the active list.
The 39-year-old Robinson is a valuable reserve for the Nets. He
averaged 6.9 points in 80 games this season, his 17th in the NBA.
"They lose a 3-point shooter. The guy can stretch it. Very
savvy player," Heat coach Pat Riley said. "They also lose one of
their best post-up defenders on Shaquille. But what it does, from
an official standpoint, it probably forces Lawrence to go with his
best team. They'll go down and put [Richard] Jefferson at 4,
[Nenad] Krstic at 5."