HORROR IN MOTOR CITY... BRAWL AT PISTONS/PACERS GAME STAINS NBA
The biggest news in sports last night was the fight at the Pistons/Pacers game in Detroit.
It was simply a horrible night for the NBA, basketball, and sports in general. After watching the numerous replays of what occurred, it's almost unbelievable to accept that this wasn't a dream influenced by some horror movie but an ugly reality about fans and players today.
There are many grey areas of fault, but I believe Ron Artest should not have crossed the line over a thrown drink. What was Tim Legler talking about on SportsCenter and in his article today? Last night, he stated that any player would have done the same. What are you talking about, Tim? I know a lot of players who would have brushed off the thrown drink as idiocy or simply yelled at the fan. To cross into the fan section and attack the person was completely uncalled for and unprofessional. I understand that he was emotionally charged, but he committed an unneeded flagrant foul on Ben Wallace towards the end of the game (Yes, Wallace overreacted too).
A theory I have about the situation is that if Artest was so calm and cool about the situation after Wallace shoved him in the face, why did he charge into the stands over a thrown drink? It was his pride boiling over. He wanted to take on Ben Wallace, but a certain amount of fear came into play and he backed down after seeing Wallace huge pipes and scary fro. As a release of frustration, he jumps into the stands to take on that little guy. Did you see the guy? He must have been no more than 5' 9" and 140 lbs. versus Artest's 6'7" 247 lbs. frame. Human nature, damaged pride, frustration, and immaturity in dealing with his emotions. I've seen it in altercations before where a pseudo-tough guy backs down in a situation with a more physical imposing person, and then starts it up with a smaller guy he has a chance on to release his tension and embarrassment. Pathetic. Human nature is sometimes like a broken record.
I thought it was stupid for Stephen Jackson to attack another fan. Who was he protecting? Artest proved to be more of an emotional fireball and unprofessional by not walking away and hitting an idiot challenging him on the floor. Again, Tim, what are you talking about?
"I believe the on-court fighting between fans and players shouldn't result in punishment for players. The punches that Artest and O'Neal threw at fans on the court should be exempt from suspension because all bets should be off when a fan comes onto the court and goes after a player. When fans go after a player and threaten him physically, they deserve what they get."
What's the difference between the court and on the street? You walk away. If a man comes on my property, am I allowed to hit him in the face? Is it justified? Are you saying that the NBA court is sacred ground or an area where normal laws don't apply?
Anyways, soon afterwards, Jermaine O'Neal throws a sucker punch on the same moron. What was that? Just walk away. This isn't some high school game. These Detroit fans may be idiots and thugs, but shouldn't NBA players be above them? Yes, they should. And yes, they can. It's not a high school game or a recreation league where chaos feeds chaos. This is a game of professionals where their pride should be beneath the game and their conduct above the fans.
Practically speaking, Artest, Jackson, O'Neal, and Wallace should face fines and suspensions to varying degrees. The fans involved should be not allowed to anymore NBA games for the coming year, especially the Detriot thug swinging at innocent Fred Jones. The NBA obviously needs to do a better job of security near the team benches. And Tim Legler should seriously stop kissing Ron Artest's ass and the players' asses, and go buy a new world view.
UPDATES: ESPN's Jim Caple, "NBA should throw book at Artest."
ESPN's Marc Stein, "Brawlers' punishment should be modeled on soccer."
Running commentary at SportsBlog on my post.
FINAL UPDATE: Ron Artest is out for the year.