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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Saturday, April 24, 2010

Stern says criticizing must stop

By Tim Reynolds
Associated Press

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

David Stern

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MIAMI A day later, NBA commissioner David Stern wasn't backing down: Coaches, he said, need to "comply with the rules."

This part was unspoken: Or else.

Stern, speaking before last night's Game 3 of the Eastern Conference first-round series between Boston and Miami, reiterated what he said Thursday in Oklahoma City, that coaches criticizing league policies or referees sends "very bad messaging" to the league's fans and needs to come to a quick halt.

Not even $35,000 fines seem to be doing the trick.

"Coaches are under a lot of pressure and I grew up trying to respect that pressure," Stern said. "I used to just say, 'It's the playoffs.' "

Now, there's no excuse. At least, none that he'll tolerate.

In a one-week window ending Thursday, Celtics forward Rasheed Wallace, Magic forward Matt Barnes, Orlando coach Stan Van Gundy and Los Angeles Lakers coach Phil Jackson all were fined for comments, mostly about foul calls. Van Gundy even likened the gaps in the schedule of first-round games to what high school or college teams typically would experience.

"When you start throwing one- and two-game suspensions in the threats, I think that means a lot to both ballclubs and to coaches," Jackson said before yesterday's practice in Oklahoma City. "It seems awful heavy-handed to me, but David is one, he isn't shy about being heavy-handed. ... There's a certain gamesmanship that goes on that obviously he feels cheapens the game."