November 20, 2004

The wheels of NBA justice begin to turn for last night's basketbrawl

For their parts in the ugly brawl that marked the end of last night's Pacers-Pistons matchup, Detroit's Ben Wallace, along with Indiana's Ron Artest, Stephen Jackson & Jermaine O'Neal have been "suspended indefinitely" by the NBA.

...a fight with fans that commissioner David Stern called "shocking, repulsive and inexcusable - a humiliation for everyone associated with the NBA."

League officials and police were examining videotapes of Friday night's melee and interviewing witnesses. The NBA issued a statement saying it was reviewing rules and security procedures "so that fans can continue to attend our games unthreatened by events such as the ones that occurred last night."

Artest, O'Neal and Jackson - who all threw punches at spectators in the stands or on the court at the end of the nationally televised Pacers-Pistons game - were to begin serving their suspensions Saturday night, when Indiana hosted Orlando.

Wallace's suspension will start at home Sunday night against Charlotte, the next game for the reigning NBA champion Pistons.

The exact length of the four players' bans could be announced as early as Sunday.

Wallace claims that he didn't start the fight, but that he was just "playing the game."

Quiet as it's kept, he's right. His team was losing, and Wallace was going up for a layup. Artest (already a pegged for a loose cannon with little business in the League) hit Wallace from behind in a hard, blatant foul that should have earned him an instant technical foul.

Wallace retaliated (which arguably, he shouldn't have done) by shoving Artest, and that started the on-the-floor fight that got settled after a few minutes.

Artest then laid down flat on his back in the middle of the scorers table. That should have gotten Artest another foul, if not an outright ejection, but things were about to get much, much worse.

Artest took a full cup of beverage in the face from a fan. And instead of being the professional that he's supposed to be and removing himself from the situation, he charged into the stands going after who he thought was the drink thrower. And he took a swing at the wrong fan!

Then, unbelievably, O'Neal & Jackson took off into the stands along with Artest, swinging at fans along the way!

As far as I'm concerned, Artest's NBA career should be over. Period. If I were commissioner, O'Neal and Jackson would be forced to sit out the season. All would be fined in addition to the suspensions and expulsions.

But I'm not commissioner. David "Show me the money" Stern is. So don't hold your breath.

The League may give the length of the suspensions as early as tomorrow, as the NBA tries to put this sorry chapter behind them.

Local police were reviewing ESPN's game footage to determine if criminal charges would be brought against anyone, fan or player. I expect to hear something from the local authorities on Monday or Tuesday.

Posted by mhking at November 20, 2004 07:21 PM

The only thing that any of those guys respond to is the Bottom Line. So, I say take it out of their hides. Fire 'em and don't pay 'em a dime. Isn't there any sort of clause in their contracts that will permit this?

And then find the jerk who threw the beer at Artest and sue him into a hole so deep his grandchildren will be broke.

Oh, and I agree with your cynical view of Stern. They need to find someone to run things who's got some moral authority. Some street creds in the proper sense.

Posted by: Toby Petzold at November 20, 2004 09:31 PM

I think the whole thing was funny. From Artest napping on the scoring table, to his punching the wrong fan, to the fan that ran on the court and got hit twice. That's classic comedy - it reminded me of the movie Slapshot when the Hanson brothers were in the stands looking for the fan that threw his keys and hitting everybody but him.

Posted by: Keith at November 21, 2004 12:46 AM

Personally, I don't think it's an issue of whether these are NBA players, who did what and hit who, etc, but of the mostly missed fact in this whole thing: an idiot threw a beer in the guy's face! Fan, professional, or any of that other jazz the guy deserves a smack in the face. Given, Artest was a little out of line, but this man is a professional athlete, not a superhuman. About 1/10000 people could say they honestly wouldn't try and take a swing at a guy who throws a damned beer in their face after a fight when they're trying to calm themselves down and control their anger. You may as well smack a sleeping tiger in the ass till it wakes up, and expect not to get bitten. While Artest and teammates may have been out of line, the fact of the matter is the dumbass deserved to get his face kicked in. These guys are professionals, but shouldn't be treated differently because of it. Plain and simple, they're just people, very big, muscular people, and if someone's drunk and stupid enough to instigate one of them, then you can expect them to try and beat the crap out of the guy. Later,


Posted by: Nick at May 8, 2005 06:53 PM
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