Kenyon Martin is one of the toughest players in the NBA, a hard-nosed enforcer in the paint who learned his craft from Bob Huggins, one of the hardest-driving college coaches.

"He told us when he was recruiting me, 'I ain't giving you nothing but a hard time, nothing but a hard time in a pair of tennis shoes,' " Martin recalled. "You respect that."

But the Knicks big man is also a father with a 12-year-old son who is already an elite basketball player. And when he watched the images flicker across his television this week of now-fired Rutgers coach Mike Rice kicking and shoving his players, pelting them with basketballs and screaming curses and homophobic slurs at them, he saw a line that was crossed.

"The kicking, the hitting, no," Martin said, wide-eyed. "Listen, some coaches know what they can get away with [verbally], and I guess he knew his players. That's way disrespectful: You don't kick nobody … another human being.

"I want to know what some of those guys' fathers are thinking. Are they around? What are they thinking? Are they going to look for him? Because I know if it was my son I'm going to go to his doorstep. For sure, I'm going to go to his doorstep. You don't put your hands on my kids."

What Rice exhibited was behavior that even players and coaches who have gone through the most arduous programs saw as far over the line. It cost Rice his job when the video went public this week, although it took five months from the time that former assistant Eric Murdock went to Rutgers athletic director Tim Pernetti with a complaint.