NEW YORK (AP) — Coaches Pat Riley and Jeff Van Gundy, called into the NBA commissioner’s office because of the fights between their two teams, were let off with a lecture.
“We discussed with both Pat and Jeff the responsibility of players and coaches in this league to set a positive example for all those who follow our game,” commissioner David Stern said Tuesday in a statement.
“I believe each of them appreciates that we are committed to eliminating violence in the NBA and that they are expected to be and should be part of the solution.”
Riley’s Miami Heat and Van Gundy’s New York Knicks brawled in their first-round NBA playoff series for the second straight year.
This time, the Knicks won the best-of-5 series even though Larry Johnson and Chris Mills were suspended for the final game, along with Miami’s Alonzo Mourning. Johnson and Mourning were suspended for two games each for throwing punches at the end of Game 4, while Mills was suspended for one game for leaving the bench area.
In the 1997 playoffs, the Heat and Knicks brawled under a basket and five New York players — including Johnson — wound up being suspended over the last two games of the series.
“Pat and Jeff and their organizations have pledged their support to work with the NBA and the National Basketball Coaches Association to utilize the potential of the NBA to positively influence coaches and players at all levels of our game,” Stern said in the statement released after the two met separately with the commissioner and deputy commissioner Russ Granik.