In Game 2 of the Portland Trail Blazers-Denver Nuggets series, Nuggets star Nikola Jokic pushed Enes Kanter into one of Jokic’s own teammates — and it started to get ugly. Or as Charles Barkley designated it, a “fracas” ensued. A timeout was quickly called, but there was some dispute about whether players had left the benches before the timeout — a violation of NBA rules.
The NBA implemented a rule decades ago barring players from leaving the bench during any on-court incident — in other words a fight — to help control the brawls and limit the potential fight participants to those already on the floor.
“I hate that rule,” Barkley said (video below). “The rule is designed for guys who come off the bench and get involved in the altercation. Guys stepping on the court for a little bit and getting suspended, I have a problem with that.” While Barkley doesn’t think players should come off the bench and throw punches — as once happened with New York Knicks reserve Greg Anthony andPhoenix Suns guard Kevin Johnson in a game Barkley played in in New York — he thinks the rule is to restrictive. He likes the spirit of the law — keeping fights from escalating — but not the way it’s enforced.
In the TNT studio, commentator Kenny Smith reasonably points out that when a guy is coming off the bench, a player doesn’t know if he’s coming to throw a roundhouse punch or to keep the peace, so the rule prohibits that possibility of escalation. The rule stops “mayhem,” Smith says.