Anthony himself was so angry that after the game, which the Knicks lost 102-96, he waited outside of Madison Square Garden by the Celtics' team bus, clearly hoping to have the last word against Garnett.
It has not been discussed yet, but Anthony's actions have him walking the conduct tightrope. Though no actual fight went down, what he did may still warrant a suspension.
As Anthony later told Chris Sheridan of Sheridanhoops.com, his intent was not to continue the scrap that had started on the court, but rather clear the air.
“There’s certain things that you just don’t say to men, another man. I felt he crossed the line,” Anthony explained. “We have an understanding right now. We handled it the way we handled it. Nobody needs to know what was said behind closed doors, so that situation is handled.”
Anthony disclosed no details where or how he and Garnett spoke.
“I just wanted to know what was being said, where was all that coming from? Whatever was being said on the basketball court, where was all that coming from?
He said the matter was discussed between the two, and it is behind them.
“Absolutely, and that was my whole mindset and motive of going back there and seeing him in the locker room and in the front, to have a one-on one conversation and talk it out like grown men,” Anthony said. “I lost my cool yesterday. I accept that."
The situation is very reminiscent of another moment in New York Knicks history, one that dates back to January 15, 2001. The Knicks played the San Antonio Spurs that day, and won 104-82. However, the highlight of the game was not how well New York played against a superior team.
The lead story was instead how Knicks forward Marcus Camby tried to sucker punch Danny Ferry of the San Antonio Spurs after Ferry poked him in the eye. Unfortunately, Camby missed and hit his coach, Jeff Van Gundy, and was ejected from the game.
It didn't stop there. Camby then waited for Ferry outside of the Spurs' locker room, but was persuaded to leave by both Knicks management and teammate Larry Johnson. He then did just what Anthony did: waited outside by the Spurs' bus so that he and Ferry could settle the score.
Camby's actions earned him a five-game suspension, but Anthony should not receive a similar penalty. In fact, he should not receive a suspension at all, nor a fine.
Look at it this way. Unlike Camby, Anthony was not looking to continue the fight. He was very upfront as to why he did what he did, and clearly has remorse for, as he put it, "losing his cool."
However, the NBA may not see things his way.
Since Anthony debuted in 2003, he has racked up both more technical fouls and ejections than Garnett. The former Syracuse star has been T'd up 103 times compared to Garnett's 86 and has gotten the boot six times, while Garnett has three ejections over that stretch.
The odds are definitely against Anthony, but he should still not be suspended.
Yes, he does have a tendency to get frustrated when things don't go his way, but has never really had a reputation as a dirty player or hothead. Prior to this incident with Garnett, the only major trouble he was ever in on the NBA level was having a role the infamous brawl between his Denver Nuggets and (ironically) the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden on December 16, 2006.
Kevin Garnett, on the other hand, is a different story. He too has received his fair share of technical fouls, 148 to be exact. More importantly, he has long had a reputation as a dirty player, and in a report by ESPN Boston last spring, Atlanta Hawks co-owner Michael Gearon, Jr. referred to the veteran big man as "the dirtiest guy in the league."
Garnett has also not been shy in the trash-talking department, going so far as to call Detroit Pistons forward Charlie Villanueva a "cancer patient" back in 2010. In reality, Villanueva suffers from Alopecia, a disease that prevents the growth of hair.
Anthony may look like more of a troublemaker on paper, at least in terms of technical fouls and ejections, but the rest of the NBA doesn't feel as much animosity towards him as they do Garnett. In 2011, ESPN Magazine had a column called "Player X," in this case an anonymous NBA player who contributed a column about various behind the scenes aspects of the league. When it came to Garnett, in an article about the game's trash-talking culture, X had some choice words.
Garnett is a punk and a coward. I know, I know. Easy for me to say behind this column. Don't worry, I'll tell him to his face, too. And I'm not the only one who thinks that: If you're not on his team, chances are you hate the guy. You can learn a lot about him by watching his eyes. If he's talking to you—and he's always talking—he avoids eye contact. My advice to other guys in the league: Stare him down, and he'll retreat. From what I've seen, he'll never mix it up with a player who's bigger than he is. Personally, I think he's scared to fight—like a playground bully who barks but doesn't bite.
That all being said, to say that Anthony should be suspended for his actions is ridiculous. While his actions were a bit unbecoming of him, he was very upfront about what he did and acknowledged that he wasn't himself. Moreover, according to him, he and Garnett settled their differences and have moved on.
A suspension would only serve two purposes in this case: It would let NBA Commissioner David Stern make an example of Anthony, and also add more fuel into the already fiery rivalry between the Knicks and Celtics.
The game is over, and Anthony did nothing wrong. He has put the incident behind him, and the league should do the same regarding the idea of a possible suspension.