THE FIGHT BUSINESS

"Nobody cares about the physical thing," Brown said. "L.A. did it. So did Boston and Detroit. Those teams got right into you. But there was no trash talking. Now that comes from the coach. I say the next time, you will have to enforce punishment on them."
"What can you tell us?" Stern asked Riley.
"I blame the media," Riley said. "They had been writing for a week that the Suns couldn't beat an Eastern team. They wrote they couldn't play the game tough enough. So it became a test of the Suns' manhood.

"If you are using quotations from books, how about what Phil Jackson told the Chicago Bulls before the playoffs with the Pistons?

"You've got to hit someone,' Jackson told the Bulls. Punch someone. Get thrown out of the game. Just do some damage.'

"Before I rest my case," Riley said, "let me say that I think Kevin Johnson was the instigator of the whole thing. We just made the mistake of retaliating."
Stern called next on three sportswriters, two from the New York Times and one from USA Today.

"The Knicks are a team that mistakes muscle for manhood," Dave Anderson of the Times said. "The next time it happens, Riley himself should be suspended."
Harvey Araton of the Times said that even worse was the fact that the three Knicks players involved, Greg Anthony, Doc Rivers and Anthony Mason, were prowling the corridors under the stands looking to continue the fight with Johnson.

"They are risking their chance at a title through senseless belligerence," he said. "In fact, Riley had been forced to bench all three earlier in the season when they ganged up on Mark Jackson, a former teammate, who was playing for the Los Angeles Clippers."
Peter Vecsey of USA Today said:
"Greg Anthony is a know-it-all who isn't even liked by his own teammates. But KJ is frustrated by an injury-riddled season and so he sets this vicious defensive pick. By the way, there is no such thing as a defensive pick."
Vecsey concluded by saying, "I find it amazing that Riley takes no responsibility for his team's habitual problems."

Even Charles Barkley had a chance to speak.
Someone asked him whether the contretemps would make him afraid to go to New York to play against the Knicks in the playoffs.

Barkley likes the idea of New York and a big series. Instead of seeing money manipulators like Karl Eller and Keith Turley in the front rows, he'll be greeted by celebrities like Spike Lee, Tom Brokaw and Donald Trump.

"Why should I be afraid?" Barkley said. "I got a gun."
Wasn't it the late A.J. Liebling who once wrote: "People everywhere confuse what they read in the newspapers with news.

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