Watching this playoffs I've realized there is a serious problem right now in the NBA with how the rules treat those who flagrantly foul vs. those who respond to flagrant fouls. Essentially, a player can act with intent to harm during the course of the game to the point where their actions would be potential felonies if they took place 2 feet away in row 1 between two fans instead of on the court between two basketball players. While this is definitely part of the game and I'm not saying that the league should go overboard here, the problem is that the league has started cracking down severely on players who stand up for their teammates on the court or leave the bench during an altercation. The result is that often the team that is the initial offender for the on-court action instigates a much more serious altercation that usually ends up with the team that just got fouled getting in worse trouble than the team that started the trouble in the first place (see Mardy Collins and Carmelo/JR Smith earlier this season).
In reality, the fault for this needs to fall heavier upon the instigating teams otherwise there's actually an incentive for a coach (ie, Popovich) to tell an expendable player (ie Horry, Bowen) to take out the best player on the other team (ie, Nash) and hope that he or some other star (ie Diaw, Amare) steps a foot off the bench or overreacts as anyone is bound to do in situations where one of their teammates gets sent sprawling into the scorer's table. I'm not saying Popovich did this, but I will say that Bowen is a consistent liability to hurt someone on the other team and for a player devoid of any other recognizable basketball skill (aside from the occasional 3-pointer from the baseline) it is definitely irresponsible (bordering on reckless) coaching to have that guy out there guarding other teams' best players. He's an injury waiting to happen (just asks the Knicks' point guards this year...).
That being said I'm actually amazed at how these NBA players control themselves, because I know when I was 21 or 22 and saw a buddy of mine get popped like that on the court I think it would have taken more than a few middle-aged assistant coaches to stop me from getting out there. And how about that Public Relations response time on the Suns? They already had a statement to the TNT broadcasters on the air that Amare was running on the court to check in rather than to get involved in the altercation within 2 minutes! If I were giving my Top 10 plays of the day, that's number 1 right there, for sure. Unbelievable, no wonder the Suns are such an impressive organization... not to mention that that excuse is pure b.s. but you have to love the effort.
What the league needs to do here is slap Horry with a 2-3 game suspension to make a statement that these instigators will not be tolerated. Give Diaw a 1 game suspension to make the point that leaving the bench still is not going to be tolerated and the league won't bow to pressure just to keep a series interesting. Then, buy into the beautifully orchestrated public relations damage control by the Suns organization that Mozart himself would have been proud to have conducted and let Amare slide on this one. He's too important to the Suns and you can't let the instigating teams benefit from this despicable conduct...
UPDATE: Now that the suspensions have been handed out, read our responses here and here.