Work in Sports
Change of heart
Sixers president decides to pay fine after all
Posted: Monday May 15, 2000 05:43 PM
PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- One day after threatening to quit the league, Philadelphia 76ers owner Pat Croce grudgingly agreed Monday to pay the NBA a $50,000 fine.
The team was fined for its fight in Saturday's playoff game against Indiana.
"My passion for fairness combined with my anger caused me to overreact," Croce said before flying to Indiana for Game 5 of the Eastern Conference semifinals. "I expect our players to follow the rules. I expect them to play through adversity. I expect the fans to follow the rules, so I have to do the same."
The NBA on Sunday held the 76ers accountable for the "reckless" play of Matt Geiger. The 7-footer was fined $20,000 and suspended two games for committing two flagrant fouls on Indiana's Reggie Miller.
The second foul occurred late in the third quarter, provoking a retaliation from Miller, who was suspended one game and fined $5,000.
"I don't want to pay that fine. I said I won't pay that fine, but I must and I will -- unless David [Stern, the NBA commissioner] reconsiders," Croce said. "How can I require Allen Iverson to be on time for practice if I disobey the league's rules?"
Neither Geiger nor Miller was on the floor Monday night. Indiana leads the best-of-seven series 3-1.
Croce spoke briefly with Stern and NBA executive vice president Rod Thorn on Sunday. He said he hasn't thought about an appeal.
Croce said he was most upset because Stern told him he was lucky 76ers coach Larry Brown wasn't suspended.
"Suspend him for what? For condoning this type of behavior? For setting forth reckless behavior? He never does that," Croce said. "He was more upset than anyone. He even apologized to other players on the team. He would never do anything but play basketball the right way."
Brown, who had hoped neither player would be suspended, supported Croce's comments.
"For David Stern and Rod Thorn and the league to punish us for not having control over our players and being excessively physical is a joke," he said. "An unfortunate incident happened, and now everybody on our team is being labeled, and it's not right."
Croce said he became incensed when the league didn't consult with him before levying the fine.
"At least they called Matt, and they called Reggie," he said. "I didn't talk to anyone. Larry Brown didn't talk to anyone about his game plan for the game. That demonstrated a disrespect for our franchise, for me. And I respect the commissioner. I was upset, disappointed, frustrated and angry."
Croce admitted he may not have given Stern a chance to explain when the two spoke Sunday.
He also said he didn't know whether the league was using the 76ers as an example to deter other teams from playing a physical style in the playoffs.
"There was 153 flagrant fouls in the league this season. We were responsible for two," Croce said. "I don't know why the league would pinpoint us as an example for thuggery or cheap shots."