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Nugs Make Right Move With Questionable Execution

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It didn't take long for Carmelo Anthony to re-justify Mike Gorman's assessment of him.

During the broadcast of the Celtics' visit to Denver last Monday, the legendary play-by-play voice made it clear that he wasn't a fan of Melo's behavior.  A week later, Anthony earned himself a suspension that cost him a chance to play on Tuesday night in Detroit.

As reported by the Denver Post's Benjamin Hochman, the Nuggets suspended their star forward for the Pistons game as punishment for his actions in a loss to the Pacers on Sunday.  Anthony refused to leave the game for a substitution by coach George Karl late in the third quarter, choosing instead to leave the huddle and head back onto the court during a timeout.

Without Anthony, the Nuggets fell by five to the Pistons on Tuesday.  Starting in place of Anthony, small forward Linas Kleiza managed to put up two points and three rebounds in 26 minutes.  That's just a tad shy of the 21.6 points and 7.4 boards Melo gives the Nuggets on average.  Or not.

But regardless of the outcome of Tuesday's game, the Nuggets made the right move in laying down the one-game ban, though part of their approach seems to be cause for question.

Anthony had to be suspended.  He disrespected his coach in front of his teammates.  That isn't the way for a player to act toward his coach under just about any circumstances.  If the man at the team's helm can have his directives disregarded by his supposed charges with no repercussions, it won't be long before he has zero credibility left with those charges. 

George Karl is the man running the ship in Denver, and that needs to be evident to his players.  It clearly wasn't to Anthony, so he earned the discipline.  Meanwhile, it couldn't hurt for the rest of the squad to see that no player is above the coaching staff, star or otherwise.  Further, no one is above the team.  Hurting the squad by suspending Anthony will hopefully indicate that the players need to be accountable not only to themselves and to the organizational higher-ups but to their teammates as well.

A lower chance of winning a regular season game in Detroit seems an easy price to pay for the sake of maintaining coaching control and sending an important message to a star player about keeping his act straight.

My one concern with what the Nuggets did centers on the issue of notifying Anthony.  From Hochman's piece that ran Tuesday afternoon:

Karl said he did not speak to Anthony on Monday, because he wanted to wait until there was a "definitive decision" made. The Nuggets announced he would be suspended close to midnight (East Coast time) in Detroit. Karl said he would "hopefully" touch base with Anthony this afternoon.

Whether the organization notified Anthony of his suspension before the announcement to the public remains unclear here.  But while it isn't evident that the team made contact beforehand, it is clear that coach and player did not speak before news of the suspension was made public.  For a disciplinary action that came as a result of a direct conflict between Anthony and Karl - and an action that Karl likely had a hand in - it seems absurd that the coach had yet to speak with his star about the decision until at least 12 hours after it was announced. 

For as unprofessional as Anthony acted on Sunday, there is something that rubs me the wrong way about making announcements to the media before decisions are made known to the pertinent in-house parties.  If the team told Anthony of the suspension, Karl talking about his player to reporters without having had the conversation with Anthony first seems a bit uncouth.  If there was no pre-media notification given to Anthony, the Nuggets are guilty of a notable lack of classiness in this dealing.

Carmelo Anthony deserved to be suspended for his actions last Sunday, and the Nuggets earn applause for having the guts to follow through.  But he also deserved to be told of his punishment by those who opted to give it to him.