November 22, 2004

Basketbrawl fallout continues with more suspensions

The suspensions have been lined up like dominos; Indiana's Artest gets to sit out the remainder of the season sans pay, Jackson is benched for 30 games, O'Neal for 25. Detroit's Ben Wallace is suspended for 6 games, while Anthony Johnson is out for 5, and Eldon Campbell, Chauncey Billups, Derrick Coleman and Reggie Miller each getting docked a game for leaving the bench during an on-court altercation.

Of course, the players' union is calling the punishments excessive, and is promising an appeal as early as tomorrow.

NBA Commissioner David Stern says that the League has to demonstrate that they are serious about discipline in matters like these.

"We have to make the point that there are boundaries in our games," Stern said. "One of our boundaries, that have always been immutable, is the boundary that separate the fans from the court. Players cannot lose control and move into the stands."
Artest claims that he isn't being treated fairly, given the circumstances.
"I respect David Stern, but I don't think that he has been fair with me in this situation," Artest said in a statement released by the players union in which he also expressed his regrets.

"The NBA has singled out Jermaine O'Neal in an arbitrary and capricious way," agent Arn Tellem said, faulting the NBA for not considering the players' fear for their own safety.

Pacers co-owner Herb Simon issued a statement saying "We believe that there was a rush to judgment and not enough opportunity for all sides to be heard. We will vigorously support our players in any available appeal process.

Indiana fans and writers alike came to Artest and the Pacers' defense over the weekend, but they all fail to realize that if incidents like this are allowed to stand without repercussions for all involved -- players and fans alike -- that the NBA's already tarnished image will slide into the toilet for good.

The fans were wrong; they were no better than drunken fans at a NASCAR event or in the bleachers at Wrigley Field or Fenway Park. But the players are supposed to be professionals. They have a responsibility to be mature enough to step away from situations like that, not to wade into the middle of them like an out of control bull in a china shop.

Oakland County, MI police are expected to have something to say in the matter as the week progresses, and criminal charges against the fans involved in the fracas are expected. It is less clear as to whether charges will be levied against the players involved.

The wheels of justice continue to slowly grind forward.

Posted by mhking at November 22, 2004 12:49 AM

Yeah, not only are these players suspended, but the lawsuits are gonna start to fly soon, especially since now it seems that Artest might have hit the wrong fan.

Posted by: Stone at November 22, 2004 12:10 PM
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