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July 23, 2008 at 11:49 AM

Return to WNBA melee

Had a trifecta last week that caused my absence from the blog — computer needed to be repaired, we didn’t travel with the Storm, and it was my birthday. So, I took a vacation and threw a party.
But of course a trifecta would pull me back — the computer is better than ever, we’re traveling to the final road game in Phoenix, and Los Angeles is getting dirty again. Oh, sorry, Lisa Leslie; Your “mommy brain” must have made you forget that your team caused an earlier “black eye” for the league when former teammate Latasha Byers pegged former Storm guard Michelle Marciniak in the face with the ball at KeyArena in 2002.
Yeah, it’s strange to note that the WNBA can use the phrase “back in the day,” but 12 years does mean there’s history. It’s not often that the players try to beat each other down stateside (Elaine Powell has done some damage overseas), but it has happened before.
Yet, as of this afternoon, the league hadn’t issued any fines or suspensions, saying only that the fight is being reviewed. But there better be plenty. Only nothing for Detroit assistant coach Rick Mahorn.

For those who missed it, check out these two stories. Basically, though, Mahorn was trying to keep the fracas from escalating and he held Leslie back — when she tried to re-enter the ugly pile of wrestling players. Only when Mahorn did so, based on replays, Leslie appeared to trip backward and fall to the ground. Afterward she questioned why he would push her and ESPN pundits are split on whether Mahorn should be suspended, tying in his “Bad Boy” rep from his days playing for the Pistons.
Please. Doesn’t anyone remember Jeff Van Gundy wrapping himself around Alonzo Mourning’s leg in the 1998 playoffs? And let’s not even get into the other melee at The Palace in the NBA, regarding what coaches (including Mahorn) did there.
Yes, Mahorn is a pest and an instigator. I can’t tell you how many times he’s plopped his big backside in my face atop the baseline media table while I’m writing or seemingly playfully taken my equipment and tossed it. All while snickering that I’m not this or that.
But it’s a coach’s job to try to stop a fight. Mahorn should not have to make a statement about violence against women. It was a fight. And if the players (men or women) are going to start throwing punches, coaches and officials need to step in and stop it. And DeLisha Milton-Jones cannot start smacking Mahorn’s back in retaliation.
Players need to be fined for leaving the bench. Rookie phenom Candace Parker, Pierson, and especially Milton-Jones need to be suspended and fined for throwing punches. And Mahorn needs to be left alone while the media needs to quit making this into some domestic violence issue. This is part of sport and women fight, too, unfortunately.
The league is discussing the issue and typical protocol is to have a decision before both teams play on Thursday, big plug for Detroit’s matchup on ESPN2 against Houston at 6:30 p.m. (PST).
For reference, Marciniak was fined and suspended for one game for throwing a punch. Storm fans tried to pay the fine. Byears was fined and suspended for two games. But there is a new collective bargaining agreement and no stipulation is defined there.
So, congratulations Parker. You’re setting another precedent in the WNBA.



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