In Game 5 of the 1997 Eastern Conference semifinals, Charlie Ward and P.J. Brown got into a fight. Patrick Ewing, Allan Houston and Larry Johnson were all suspended despite not being involved.
In Game 4 of the 2007 Western Conference semifinals, Robert Horry checked Steve Nash into the scorer's table in a game that was already decided. Amare Stoudemire and Boris Diaw were suspended.
What was their crime? Getting off of the bench.
That's right, they didn't get involved in the fights; they just stepped off of the bench.
This would make the top five of this list, but it's technically in line with the rules.
Why this gets an honorable mention is that it's the single dumbest rule in all of sports.
If you watched your friend get punched at a bar, would you get arrested for walking towards the person who did it? Of course not. Because there's nothing wrong with being angry when someone attacks your friend or teammate.
I'm willing to give a slight pass to the NBA for what happened in 1997. They'd never dealt with such a situation before, and even though they robbed fans of a Knicks-Bulls bloodbath in the Eastern Conference Finals, they probably didn't change the course of history too much. The Bulls weren't losing in 1997.
But what happened in 2007 was completely inexcusable. The league had dealt with something like this before, they had seen the effect it had and they went forward with the suspension.
What's worse is that the Spurs initiated the fight. Robert Horry checked Steve Nash out of nowhere. It was a classless, unprovoked move that ultimately resulted in the Spurs winning the series.
But what's worst of all? This swung the 2007 title. This was Phoenix's year. The Suns had home-court advantage. They had just finished beating the Spurs to tie the series. Kurt Thomas was able to contain Tim Duncan enough to keep him from destroying them.
Even without Amare Stoudemire and Boris Diaw Phoenix almost beat the Spurs in Game 5 anyway. With both I think they win the series. Waiting for them in the playoffs would have been a mediocre No. 4 seed who lucked out and avoided No. 1 Dallas, and then an underwhelming Cavs team in the finals.
The fact that the NBA let a technicality swing a championship is just flat-out wrong. We'll remember the careers of Steve Nash, Tim Duncan, Robert Horry and Amare Stoudemire differently because of it.