When Is Enough Ever Enough?


HANG TIME, Texas — What better occasion than Super Bowl Sunday, our annual genuflection to wretched excess, to ask: When is enough enough?

Along about the time when the Knicks were tap-dancing on the chalk outline of all that was left of the Kings on Saturday night, the venerable Kurt Thomas rose up to launch one more 3-point shot.

Does the fact that Thomas, at 40, is the oldest player in the NBA, get him the benefit of the doubt that perhaps his failing eyesight couldn’t see the Madison Square Garden scoreboard that showed his team ahead by the fairly comfortable margin of 110-60?

What of the Knicks piling onto Sacramento with a whopping total of 43 shots from behind the arc on the night, J.R. Smith swinging his arms like a runaway windmill after nailing one, Carmelo Anthony and Steve Novak firing imaginary guns after hitting their targets?

“I’m not trying to rub this in,” Knicks coach Mike Woodson said. “When it’s time to go to the bench, I do that. I’ve been on the other end of it in my career.”

Five nights earlier in Salt Lake City, the Rockets put the finishing touches on the worst home beating in the history of the Jazz, 125-80, by shooting 8-for-13 on 3-pointers in the fourth quarter.

“They didn’t let up one bit,” Utah forward Paul Millsap told the Salt Lake Tribune. “But believe me when I say we will see them again and, hopefully, it will be the other way around.”

Interestingly enough, on Friday night in Toronto, in the final seconds of a 98-73 thumping, it was the Clippers Caron Butler that raised eyebrows around the league. As the Raptors Jonas Valanciunas was dribbling out the clock, Butler approached and made like he was extending his arm in a handshake. When Valanciunas let down his guard, Butler then reached out to swipe the ball and tried to run off to score before he was fouled.

So what are the unwritten and unspoken rules of etiquette in these situations? Is there anything that says any one of these players did anything unsportsmanlike or unethical?

Remember, this was not teenager Danny Heater of West Virginia pouring it on with 135 points against an overmatched team of high schoolers. The Kings and Jazz and Raptors are all highly-paid pros. And, of course, the Raptors won the game.

“Is the clock still ticking? Are the lights still on? Is the game still being played?” asked Matt Bonner, the Spurs reserve who has had more than his share of experience in late-game situations.

“What you’re always taught is to keep playing hard and to always protect yourself any time you’re on the court. You can’t suddenly tell guys who are in at the end of the game to stop competing.”

To his credit, Kings coach Keith Smart told Filip Bondy of the New York Daily News that he did not mind the celebrating.

“I don’t feel that way,” the Sacramento coach said. “We’re all big boys. Guys don’t get a chance to play much, they want to shoot and keep playing. You can’t tell them not to shoot. Take your lumps and move on.”

In late-game situations, while the victims just want to hurry and get off the court, there can be other players getting a chance to shine.

“Look, there have been times when I haven’t played much all night and then we’ve got a big lead and Pop (coach Gregg Popovich) might send a bunch of us out there for the last seven or eight minutes,” Bonner said.

“Hey, I want to play. I want to do well. This is my chance. Pop might tell us no fastbreaks or something like that, but he still wants us to run our offense the right way, to play the game and take the shots.”

It is understandable. The reserves only move up in the rotation when they show what they can do. As Smart said, they’re all big boys and if you don’t like it, well, you could go out and defend all those 3s?

So then, how does anyone come up with a reasonable explanation for Butler’s rope-a-dope on Valanciunas?

Bonner shrugged, “Play till you hear the horn.”

When enough is officially enough.


  1. Emong Bulol says:

    unprofessional hit

  2. SaYO says:

    wait whats wrong with doing this? lols

  3. bodjee says:

    Shouldn’t Butler be fined for breaking an unwritten law that exists between players? If his action is considered un-sportmanship then the league should come up with some kind of retribution so that other unwritten rules are not violated and the respect between players are not further disintegrated.

  4. obs says:

    double standart rules. “quite” similar episode happened to rookie Lillard 2 months ago. blazers were winning, 15 sec left on a clock, no D, no offense. suddenly, Lillard made a rush towards rim and a bucket. some veterans from opposite team came into Lillards face expressing their disappointment and trying to teach the kid rules. Looks like the veteran is RIGHT this time as well!

  5. janus says:

    funny idiotic move by butler..no respect for the game…

  6. Ricardo says:

    There’s no better way to show respect than to play hard until the game it’s really over. You can rest your best players but the ones who are on the floor should give a maximum effort until the end. I don’t like the dribbling it out but what Butler did was just disgusting, a really low trick… The Clippers organization or Butler himself should have made a public apology,the NBA likes to fine people for nothing ,why not this kind of behavior? Can a handshake be ruled as a foul? You are grabbing the other guy’s hand don’t you? One way or the other this situation should have never happened.

  7. Ben says:

    Well, the thing of dribbling out the game is a plague on the NBA anyway.

    I’m busy watching the 86 finals at the moment. Guess what? They keep playing till the final buzzer sounds, even when the game is long over. It’s fantastic and refreshing. This is the way the game should be. I don’t find there to be any respect in dribling the ball out; it’s a false respect, it’s a tradition which people don’t break because they don’t want to be the one to look like a villain.

    Enough is never enough. 50 points isn’t enough. Keep playing hard, show what you can show, win by as much as you can. I’m sick of the ‘etiquette’ that the game is over before it’s over.

    On the other hand, the Butler thing was just kinda cruel – but it’s the fault of this silly culture that Jonas would even think that the game was ‘over’.

  8. BJ says:

    LOL, I thought it was pretty funny myself. The team was on the bench getting a chuckle out of it also. you should play hard until the end. was it a bad decision on Butler? well, the game was still in regulation with a few seconds left. So, he kept playing, got a couple of more points before the clock ran out.

    unethical would have been to give a flagrant foul after the clock ran out.

  9. Logic says:

    Wow, first of all, anyone that thinks what Butler did to Valanciunas is okay does not qualify as a person with ethics. Who raised you and do you have a brain? Do you not know the proper way of handling the situation when the ball is being dribbled out in the final seconds? The game was obvisouly over and the teams stopped competing. There’s a reason things like this never happen because anyone who pulls a move like this cannot be called a professional. Good job Butler, way to add to your already terrible and unrespected personality. Moron.

    • Hm says:

      Naming yourself after logic doesn’t make your whiny rambling any more logical.
      “People who disagree with me on this subject are not ‘persons with ethics.'”

      • ginobili says:

        HM were you raised by animals?

      • Logic says:

        Ginobili, I think he might have been raised by animals, not quite sure. Hm, so you think that move was ethical and sportman-like? Nothing disrespectful to the players or the game? Either you don’t know what ethics is or your morals are all out of whack. I laugh at you, son.

    • W/E says:

      Butler did the right thing to that soft Raptor guy, he humilated him cause he deserved it, Raptor guy learned the hard way that whatever is the result u never give the ball like that even at the last milisecond of the game, u gotta play hard and for real to get respect.

      • Logic says:

        Deserved it? That move was so unprofessional it got a whole article for it. You must not understand basketball sportmanship or have not seen any final seconds of blowout games.

  10. jelanie says:

    WTF… Butler is an idiot!!!!

  11. allan houston says:

    well butler would never do that if lebron was holding the ball , the same as matt barnes wouldnt hit durant , melo or dwight like he hit greg stiesma last night , they won a few games in a row and they think they are stars , and i believe rudy gay did that because what butler did to them

  12. W/E says:

    lol Butler did the right thing, players should learn to play hard no matter what even if they are down 60 they should still play they are getting paid millions to play no matter whats the result just play hard and dont be soft, Butler humilated that soft guy cause he deserved it, u dont give the ball like that while the game is still going on…

    • John says:

      Humuliated? raptors still won by double digits, if Butler wanted to do that then don’t even bother with the handshake.

  13. AM says:

    Well, Rudy Gay did the same thing against Miami, so Toronto can’t complain about Butler

  14. Chester says:

    i dont get this idea that teams have to take it easy on the losing team at the end of a game. you should play hard all game, this just dribbling it out for the last twenty or thirty seconds is ridiculous. maybe the losers should focus on why they lost and how much it hurts, so that way they might try to prevent it from happening again. its just sore losers. if i was ahead by 30 i would still have my players play as if its tied up

  15. KeCe says:

    I wouldnt do what Butler did… That’s just lame and pathatic

    • slider821 says:

      I thought it was kind of funny…

    • Hm says:

      The only people crying about this are Valanciunas fans and other such people who think it’s okay to just hand the opposition the ball before the game is over.

      • ginobili says:

        The only people crying about this are the people who respect the game and realize childish, ignorant, unsportsmanlike behavior when they see it.

  16. Kaneman says:

    I agree with Bonner on this one. The reserve players can show what they can, plus it’s more interesting for the fans.