Monday's Paul Pierce-Joakim Noah skirmish has resulted in Wizards suspensions ... for players not named Paul Pierce or Joakim Noah. Instead, four players -- Nene, DeJuan Blair, Xavier Silas and Daniel Orton -- will be suspended for the regular-season opener for violating the age-old leaving the bench rule, the league announced Tuesday.
Pierce and Noah, meanwhile, will both be fined $15,000.
The leaving-the-bench rule is the famous, yet controversial guideline that resulted in several Phoenix Suns suspensions in the 2007 playoffs. As the footage shows, all four players indeed did leave the bench, though Nene barely got past half court.
You may notice several Bulls players on the court too. I asked the NBA to clarify why they weren't suspended and was told that it's because players are allowed to be on the court for an instant replay review if they are close to their own bench. Remember: the officials were reviewing whether the Pierce foul was flagrant.
"The Bulls players came onto the floor during the review and were already in proximity to where the altercation eventually occurred," NBA spokesman Tim Frank emailed. "The suspended Wizards players crossed the midcourt line, which was not a reasonable distance to be from the bench during a replay review."
Or, if you prefer a visual view.
Obviously, this is lame for the Wizards on a number of levels. The rule was originally designed to punish those who increase the threat of a fight, yet it's often been interpreted by the letter of the law instead of the spirit of the law. Nene may be off the bench, but he's also about as far from the fray as can be. Also: a regular-season suspension for a preseason violation is annoying for many of you.
At the same time, the rule is clear and there have been numerous very public violations of it. The Wizards players should have known better. Because they didn't, the Wizards' chances of winning the season opener are in jeopardy.