View Full Version : ESPN interview with Herr Stern -- speaks on the brawl and lots more

02-16-2006, 08:54 PM

BS: So were you watching when the Artest melee happened? <table align="right" border="0" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0"> <tbody><tr><td rowspan="2" width="5"><spacer type="block" height="1" width="5"></td><td width="275">http://www.espn.go.com/media/nba/2004/1120/photo/a_artest_i.jpg</td></tr><tr><td style="padding-bottom: 3px; line-height: 13px;" width="275">In case you forgot what happened ...</td></tr></tbody> </table> DS: I actually was. BS: What was your first reaction? Pick up the phone or just stare in shock?
DS: I said, "Holy [mouths a swear word]." And then I called [assistant commissioner] Russ [Granik] and said, "Are you watching our 'blank' game?" He said no, I said, "Well turn our blank game on, you're not gonna believe it." It was Friday night, 10:45 or thereabouts [sighs]
BS: What time did you go to bed that night?
DS: I went to bed relatively early. Like 12:30, 1. The tape was at my door at 6 o'clock [the following morning].
BS: Was that the biggest thing that happened since you became commissioner? Or would you say Magic?
DS: In retrospect, [Artest] was big because it showed some fundamental flaws in fans, and the risks that are attached to a game. But it was pretty cut and dry, I think, in what we had to do. Magic was a situation in which our league was put at risk in a big way. This one [Artest] was like, how many thousands of times can you watch the same footage? In some ways, it was like the perfect storm. The hassling wasn't broken up fast enough, the players were misbehaving, there was a player lying on the scorer's table getting a tummy rub, there's a fan who may or may not have belonged there tossing a beer and just happened to hit the guy, and then he goes there and wasn't stopped by anybody.
But in some ways, what turned my stomach more was the sight of fans standing at the vomitorium feeling free to pour their libations on our players. Oh, criminal activity -- a guy tossing a chair? I mean, that was inexcusable. But to me, it was a quick lapse of judgment, a wild, uncontrollable melee, and some very bad behavior by fans who thought that some force had been unleashed and they could avoid any civilized norm. Honestly, it was like, "OK, we're gonna deal with it. You can't do this, that's why security is there, we're gonna deal with the [responsible] fans, we're gonna fine the fans we're gonna define in a better way what behavior is going to be, we're gonna define exactly where security should be posted, and we're going to examine the issue of alcohol to the extent that it may have played its part."
BS: So all that stuff was cut and dry.
DS: Yeah, as far as I was concerned.