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Knicks-Nuggets Became a Boxing Match at Madison Square Garden
AP Photo/Frank Franklin II

In one corner, from Denver, Colorado; the mountain-high, the tantalizing, the bruising Denver Nuggets. In the other corner, from the Big Apple; the dismantled, the Isiah Thomas plagued, the hard-nosed New York Knicks.

Let’s get ready to rumbbblleeeeee!!!

Did anyone else hear Madison Square Garden PA announcer Mike Walczewski say this before JR Smith led a fast break with 1:15 left in the December 16, 2006 matchup? The mic belaying from the ceiling was just a figment of my imagination?

The Knicks vs. Nuggets Brawl: 2006

With the Nuggets up 119-100, Smith went up for a layup and was mauled by Knicks forward Mardy Collins. Collins hovered both arms over Smith and laid down the hammer. Understandably, Smith didn’t take too well to the flagrant foul and bounced right up to confront Collins. New York guard Nate Robinson intervened, and that’s when things got dicey.

Robinson pushed Smith away. Knicks center David Lee came into the fold and tried to hold Smith back. The Nuggets guard broke free and jumped on Robinson. They tangled off the court and invaded photographer’s row. The altercation took a pause, then re-escalated when Carmelo Anthony threw a right hook at Collins. Lee pursued Anthony, who retreated back to the Denver bench, but tripped over Nuggets forward Marcus Camby. The fight diffused.

All 10 players on the court were ejected from the game. Nuggets head coach George Karl and Knicks coach Isiah Thomas were stunned. They were scrutinized for their involvement in the incident. The Nuggets won in a blowout, 123-100.

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National Basketball Association commissioner David Stern issued hefty suspensions. Anthony, the leading scorer in the league at the time, was dealt a 15-game suspension; Smith and Robinson were suspended for 10 games apiece; Collins six games; Jared Jeffries four games; and Nene and Jerome James one game each. Coming just two years after the Pacers-Pistons brawl, the most infamous in NBA history, the league was fighting to reshape its image and wasn’t messing around with in-game altercations. The Knicks-Nuggets fight wasn’t deemed as troublesome because none of the players ventured into the stands, but the suspensions were heavy. Ironically, four members of the ’06 Nuggets team were on the Knicks for the 2012-13 season.

In the explanation of the NBA players’ suspensions, Stern stated:

“It is our obligation to take the strongest possible steps to avoid such failures in the future.”

The Nuggets acquired Allen Iverson shortly after the suspensions and played their way into the 2007 postseason. They lost to the eventual champion San Antonio Spurs in the first round. The Knicks missed the playoffs.

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Michael Buffer‘s iconic intro gets the adrenaline pumping before a big fight. Regrettably, the juice started flowing when the early-season basketball game was all but over.

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Joe Grobeck About the author:
Joe is a graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and lives in Austin, Texas. He believes Ndaumkong Suh should've won the 2009 Heisman and is an avid basketball fan.
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