Rabbi Can't Save Maccabi Coach From Embarrassing Ejection Against Knicks

By  | 

NEW YORK (AP) -- NBA or Europe, regular referees or replacements, the rules are the same: Two technical fouls is an automatic ejection, and anyone ejected must leave the floor.

Maccabi Tel Aviv wanted a pass on that rule Sunday.

The New York Knicks' 106-91 victory over the Euroleague team featured a bizarre delay in the third quarter when the visiting coach refused to leave after he was ejected.

The game was halted about 8 minutes when Pini Gershon continued to linger near Maccabi's bench -- a delay that included a rabbi trying to intervene by asking the NBA's replacement referees calling the game to allow Gershon to stay.

"I explained that this is not a regular game and the kids are watching and (it's) important that there will be peace and forgive him," Rabbi Yitchak Dovid Grossman said of his discussions with the officials. "If you forgive him, I can speak to the children and say, 'You also forgive. If you have a fight, you forgive.' But he says this is the law, that you must obey."

Gershon eventually left after a lengthy discussion with the referees, his assistant coaches and NBA security personnel. A security official said Gershon told them he didn't care if the game was stopped before he eventually agreed to leave.

"He likes the crowd, the crowd likes him very much," Maccabi's Yaniv Green said. "They're coming to the game to see him even more than they're coming to see us. He's quite a character, like you saw today."

Nate Robinson scored 19 points, and David Lee added 14 points and 12 rebounds for New York.

Former Michigan State player Alan Anderson scored 20 points for Maccabi Tel Aviv. D'or Fischer added 19 points and 16 rebounds.

Apparently frustrated by the officiating, Maccabi picked up four technical fouls, including two on Gershon in a 53-second span of the third quarter. Strangely, the second came after he screamed at official Ben Taylor in front of his bench following an offensive foul called on the Knicks' Al Harrington.

With fans chanting "Macc-ab-i!", Gershon didn't seem to be listening to any of the basketball officials. Once the appeal from Grossman, founder and dean of Migdal Ohr, failed, Gershon finally exited.

"I've never experienced that before, but I mean there's a first time for everything I guess," said Robinson, who approached the Maccabi bench in an attempt to figure out what was happening.

A Maccabi official said Gershon would not comment, and the NBA is not allowing the replacement officials to comment during the preseason. The regular staff is locked out during a labor dispute.

Wilson Chandler and Harrington, back after missing the last game with a knee injury, each scored 11 points for the Knicks, who also beat the Israeli team in a 2007 exhibition. Maccabi visits the Los Angeles Clippers on Tuesday.

The 2007 game drew the largest crowd for an exhibition at Madison Square Garden. That was a night contest, this game began at 1 p.m. EDT, a more convenient time for Maccabi's fans overseas but it left the upper section of seats empty.

Maccabi's roster featured Maciej Lampe, a second-round pick of the Knicks in 2003. He was traded early the next year to Phoenix, where he would later play for Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni, in the deal for Stephon Marbury. Lampe finished with 14 points.

Darko Milicic didn't play for the Knicks in the second half due to an upset stomach.

Proceeds from the game will benefit Migdal Ohr, the world's largest orphanage.