Does Rajon Rondo Deserve a Suspension?

With the Atlanta Hawks leading the Boston Celtics 78 to 74 with 41 seconds left in game one of the opening round of the 2012 NBA Playoffs, there was a loose ball and an ensuing scrum of bodies on the floor. Though some NBA columnist estimated that a ref would call a jump ball about 90 percent of the time in that sort of situation (late game, 3 seconds on the shot clock), Celtics PF Brandon Bass was whistled for a loose ball foul. Rondo immediately went after Marc Davis, clapping in his face while screaming some choice words in his face. Correctly, Rondo was immediately whistled for a Technical Foul.

Below is SI Basketball reporter Zach Lowe’s initial reaction to the play:

Next is where the real trouble came for the Celtics. Rondo took a step towards the official, as if he were not done and wanted to continue the conversation with Davis. Rondo stepped on a headband that had been dislodged from Atlanta PF Josh Smith’s head, and then his left foot collided with the referee’s left foot. In the process, his momentum (and some extra from him, personally) bumped into the official, earning a second technical and immediate ejection.

In addition to putting his team in a bad situation at the end of game 1 (down 6 now, no PG), Rondo faces a possible suspension from Commissioner David Stern. The rule is stated clearly in the screenshot below:

Trying to be as objective as possible, it appears a 1 game suspension is imminent for the Celtics record setting point guard, who recorded his 25th consecutive game in double digit assists with 11 to go with 20 points. Contact with an official is one thing the league will not tolerate, and I would be surprised if a suspension wasn’t announced on Monday. That being said, it is (remotely) possible that the league determines that when their feet got tangled up, the ensuing momentum carried RR9 into Marc Davis and the resulting contact was unintentional and therefore not worthy of a suspension. More to come on Monday from the league office…

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