With his eye swollen partially shut and a bandage covering at least a dozen stitches, Jeff Van Gundy said his days as a peacemaker are over.
From the looks of him, it appears to be a wise career decision.
Van Gundy came out on the losing end of a collision Monday between his head and Marcus Camby's after Camby threw a sucker punch at Danny Ferry late in the fourth quarter of New York's 104-82 victory over the San Antonio Spurs.
It was Van Gundy's first time in the middle of a dustup since he grabbed hold of Alonzo Mourning's leg during a fight between Mourning and Larry Johnson during the 1998 playoffs.
"I'm getting there," Van Gundy said. "Last time I got their guy, this time I got my guy. Next time I'll stay the heck out of the way."
Van Gundy needed 12-15 stitches to close the cut over his eye.
Camby said he apologized to Van Gundy and his teammates on Monday, ESPN.com reported today (ESPN.com, like ABCNEWS.com, is owned by Walt Disney Co.)
Camby Faces Suspension
Camby, who faces a mandatory suspension under NBA rules for throwing a punch, hung around the building for nearly an hour before finally being persuaded to leave. Only then did security officials allow Ferry to leave the locker room, escorting him to the team bus.
"I'm sure he [Camby] would like to take it back," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. "He's an intelligent guy."
David Robinson disagreed.
"It wasn't the smartest thing to do to hit his own coach," Robinson said.
It was a strange ending to another dominant performance by the Knicks, who got 31 points from Allan Houston, 20 from Glen Rice and 19 from Latrell Sprewell.
Winning for the ninth time in 10 games and holding their opponent below 100 points for the 31st consecutive game, the Knicks were having one of their best all-around games of the season until late in the fourth.
Waiting for Ferry After Game
Camby was poked in the eye by Ferry and was being restrained by his teammates when he lunged after Ferry and threw a windmill punch.
"He poked me in the eye, bloodied me up," Camby, still emotional, told Johnson in the hallway outside San Antonio's locker room. "I wasn't going to hit him until I saw the blood in my eye."
The punch did not hit anybody, but Camby collided with Van Gundy as the coach jumped between them. Van Gundy stayed down for about a minute before getting up, blood dripping down his face.
"He got the shot in that every one of our players would like to do to me. He just got a free one," Van Gundy said.
After the game, Camby stood outside the San Antonio locker room for 10 minutes until Knicks officials — including president Dave Checketts, general manager Scott Layden, Johnson and several security officers — persuaded him to leave. Camby then went downstairs to the area where the Spurs' bus was idling and spent another 20 minutes waiting for Ferry as team officials continued to try to calm him down.
"We were banging around the whole game," Ferry said. "I don't remember doing anything to lead to something like that."
Camby Blocked Six Shots
Houston, Sprewell and Rice each shot over 50 percent while Camby blocked six shots and grabbed 11 rebounds for the Knicks, who were coming off a 15-point victory over the Portland Trail Blazers on Saturday.
"I thought that was our best game of the year," Van Gundy said. "Our guys were really ready and that's what the focus should be on."
Houston scored 11 points in the first quarter, including two 3-pointers in the first 3:40, and the Knicks took their first double-digit lead on an alley-oop dunk by Camby with 3:11 left in the first half.
New York closed the second quarter with a 6-0 run to open a 15-point lead, then played nearly flawlessly in the third. Camby blocked four shots in the quarter, which ended with New York holding an 85-61 lead.
Houston hit the first basket of the fourth, and the lead was up to 24 when a yo-yo was thrown on the court. Chris Childs of the Knicks picked it up and played with it before passing it off to a referee in what turned out to be the last lighthearted moment of the game.
Camby went after Ferry a few minutes later with the score 99-79.
David Robinson shot 1-for-11 from the field and Tim Duncan was 0-for-7 from the foul line for the Spurs, who shot only 39 percent.