The Law Won

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NEW YORK CITY: Bad news for Spike Lee: Before a courtroom packed with anxious Knicks fans, a federal judge refused to reverse the suspensions of four New York Knicks involved in Wednesday's melee with the Miami Heat. After a 90 minute hearing between the NBA and the National Basketball Players' Association, U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff ruled that league commissioner David Stern had complete authority to hand down the suspensions. The players claimed the NBA's decision to suspend violated the league's collective bargaining agreement, which mandates that such a rule must be negotiated with the Players' Union. The ruling, which upholds the harshest suspension in NBA playoff history, left the Knicks without the services of Patrick Ewing and Allen Houston in Game 6 of the playoffs Friday in New York. Larry Johnson and John Starks will serve their suspensions either in Game 7 or Game 1 against the Bulls. Both Charlie Ward and P.J. Brown, who were involved in the initial entanglement, did not dispute the NBA's ruling and will serve out their suspensions.