NEW YORK — On February 6, 1995, Vernon Maxwell, then a member of the defending NBA champion Houston Rockets, pulled a Ron Artest while Ron Artest was still just a 15-year-old, acne-faced sophomore at New York City’s La Salle Academy.
During the third quarter, with the Rockets trailing, 79-52, Maxwell did the unthinkable – he charged into the stands and punched Steve George, a 35-year-old fan, right in the kisser.
Commissioner David Stern’s hand wasn’t as heavy back then. Maxwell got a 10-game suspension and a $20,000 fine.
Maxwell was in the final year of his deal with the Rockets, and most around the NBA were sure he’d never play in the league again.
The next year, surprisingly, he was signed by the Philadelphia 76ers and given a starting job.
Maxwell defended his actions by alleging that George chastised him about Maxwell’s stillborn daughter. That was never proven to be true, but Sixers coach John Lucas and owner Harold Katz believed him and forgave him.
So, the answer to the obvious question as it relates to Carmelo Anthony and his New York Knicks is this: I don’t know what Kevin Garnett said to ‘Melo because – like about 90 percent of the other media members at the game – I was in the press room at Madison Square Garden waiting for Mike Woodson to begin his postgame media address.
And for that reason, I simply cannot fault or blame Anthony for his hot-headed pursuit of Garnett.
Anyone who has spent time around Anthony and the Knicks knows that ‘Melo is a pretty even-tempered guy. For Garnett to get him that riled up, he must have said something pretty bad.
To be honest with you, I’m not buying the whole Honey Nut Cheerios bit, perhaps because I’m more of a Lucky Charms kind of guy. But it certainly has gone viral, eh? Even LaLa tweeted about it.
Since arriving in Boston, Garnett has slowly but surely become Public Enemy No. 1 amongst NBA players. He should garner your respect for being one of the best power forwards to ever play the game, but he’s worthy of your disdain for the shabby and low tactics he has used to gain a competitive advantage over youngsters that are quicker, faster and more agile.
This is, after all, the same guy who allegedly called Charlie Villanueva a “cancer patient.”
In all honesty, my first thought upon hearing of the incident between the two was that Garnett must have made a low, low remark. And I certainly wouldn’t put it past him.
So when I first learned of the altercation between Anthony and Garnett, my immediate thought wasn’t that ‘Melo isn’t a leader. It was more about what kind of low class, low ball thing Garnett could have said to incite Anthony.
Any mention of either of Anthony’s deceased family members would have warranted much more than a pursuit, in my opinion.