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:: Monday, November 22, 2004 ::

It Doesn't Ring Right

From today's New York Times:

The National Basketball Association imposed its stiffest collective penalties ever yesterday, suspending the Indiana Pacers' Ron Artest for the remaining 72 games of the season and suspending his teammates Stephen Jackson and Jermaine O'Neal for a combined 55 games for fighting with fans Friday night.

n a sequence replayed repeatedly on television in the past 48 hours, Pacers players charged into the stands at the Palace of Auburn Hills in Michigan in perhaps the worst brawl in pro basketball history....

In a 40-minute news conference before last night's Knicks-Cavaliers game at Madison Square Garden, N.B.A. Commissioner David Stern condemned the players' actions and emphasized the need for greater fan control and arena security. He said the league would redefine acceptable fan behavior and would discuss curtailing beer sales. Stern said fans who did not meet the new standard would be barred permanently, although he did not elaborate on how that could be accomplished. The league is also planning to re-examine security at all 29 arenas.

"We have to make the point that there are boundaries in our games," he said, "and that one of those boundaries, which has always been immutable, is the boundary that separates the fans from the court. And players cannot lose control and go into the stands. As a corollary, we have to hold fans responsible for their antisocial behavior as well."

I must admit, I haven't seen the videotape. But it says here in the article that the players charged into the stands, and the Commissioner is blaming the fans? First of all, talk about alienating your fan base--the beer nazi. "You called the players names. No beer for you!"

It sounds like the Commissioner is trying to come off blameless. "My players lost control and charged into the stands because they couldn't take a little name calling (or whatever was going on)... we gotta stop that name calling. My player's tempers? What about 'em?"

These are pro sports, people. Nasty things get said in the stands. It's a fact. They can't put a two year old kid in every other row to keep the loudmouths civil, if that would even work. At the NBA level players should be used to this.

Remember when Tie Domi jumped the glass in the penalty box to go after a fan? He was suspended. Was the fan saying nasty things? Well no duh. (If I remember correctly, I think the line was like, "Yes the fan was saying nasty things, but this is hockey. He should be used to it.") Did that mean Domi had a right to beat him up? Of course not.

Once again I have to say, I haven't seen the tape. But even without seeing it, I think the Comm.'s comments were not a good move. When players lose control, the last thing you should do is blame the fans.

edit: Okay, so I found a bit more information on this. Turns out that a beer cup was thrown at the basketball player. According to this ESPN writer, the player didn't even go after the right guy! He had no clue who threw it. He was just attacking innocent fans. Not cool.

And I remembered more stuff about the Domi incident. Now that I think about it... didn't someone drop their drink on top of his head in the penalty box? More similar than I remembered.

Sooo... yah.

:: Kazen @ Always Doing 4:36 AM [+] ::
:: ... 2 comments | backtrack ::


The cnn.com story.
The players were severely punished, and the two that went into the stands throwing punches were punished the worst by far. They will both be suspended without pay for quite some time - one of them will be losing nearly $5 million. They should never have gone into the stands. The fans should not have thrown anything at them, nor punched them after they entered the stands. They should never have been brawling on the court in the first place. Overall, nine players were banned for a combined 143 games. I do feel that the fans should share in the responsibility as well, in some form. It's sort of like kicking an angry bulldog...you shouldn't be suprised when it bites your ankle. I'm not defending the players at all, and I think the NBA's comments were poorly worded. However, they did more than adequately punish the players, and they have no such control over the fans.
I really like that story, Aaron. It adequately worded what I was going for, but didn't realize, I think. ^_^
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