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fwpacerfan
11-22-2004, 02:45 PM
Mitch Albom wrote a great article in the Detroit Free Press.

http://www.freep.com/sports/pistons/mitch22e_20041122.htm


BY MITCH ALBOM
FREE PRESS COLUMNIST

And so this morning, like a boxer standing before the mirror after his handlers have gone home, we examine our face to see how badly we are bruised.

Black eyes everywhere. On the athletes, on the fans, on the sport and, yes, on our city. There were extra security guards at the Palace of Auburn Hills on Sunday night, but they were as superfluous as an umbrella after a rainstorm. This deed is done. This stain is in the fabric. Players have been suspended for chunks of the season, one for the entire season, and police are investigating everything and everyone. You can rail all you want about "who started what," but in the end, it's all about what people remember. And they will remember this:

"Malice at Palace." "Basket-Brawl." "Friday Night Fights."

Oh, sure, had we lived in an era before videotape, the encounter between Detroit's Ben Wallace, Indiana's Ron Artest, several of Artest's teammates, and a handful of delusional Pistons fans might have faded away.

But we do not live in such an era. Instead, the ugly, flailing video -- beer being dumped, punches being thrown, a chair flying into the swarm of bodies -- will replay every time the Pistons and Pacers meet, every time some news network turns its focus to fandom, every ESPN Top 10 Bad Behavior, and, sadly, every time people sum up our city. Never mind that Auburn Hills is to downtown Detroit what Newark is to New York City. People won't take time to distinguish.

And we can't complain about respect.

Fact is, respect is what started this in the first place.

Oh, not real respect. Real respect has traces of kindness. Real respect is deferential, like a young apprentice and his patient mentor. Real respect knows, at its core, humility.

I'm talking about the *******ized "respect" in today's sports world -- where the word means nobody does anything to you that you don't like, want, accept or appreciate.

Or you let them have it.

A series of mistakes

Ben Wallace felt "disrespected" by Artest's hard foul late in an already decided game. So instead of shrugging if off, he had to whirl and shove Artest in the neck. Artest, "disrespected" by Wallace's retaliation, couldn't just shrug and say "sorry," he had to jaw back, then argue, then ultimately lie on the scorer's table as if it were a Barcalounger, mocking Wallace in order to even the "disrespect" ratio.

Some idiot fan, who felt "disrespected" by Artest's mocking of Wallace, was compelled to throw beer on Artest, to teach him a "respect" lesson. And Artest, instead of shaking his head at the fan's insanity and asking security to deal with the situation, had to show that such "disrespect" would not be tolerated, so he thundered into the stands -- over a table and a railing and seats -- until he found someone whom he could punch, even though he had no idea if this were the culprit.

The chain reaction continued. Artest's teammates couldn't let the "disrespect" go on, so they joined him and found others to punch. More fans, emboldened, couldn't let the Pacers "disrespect" them, so they confronted several on the floor, where fans should never be. And those confronted players couldn't allow such "disrespect" -- after all, they had egos to protect -- so they swung away.

On it went, through more shoving, grabbing, yanking and tumbling, through a shower of beer and popcorn that was dumped on the Pacers as they entered the tunnel.

And on it goes today, tomorrow, next week and next year.

"You know, a few months ago, people were talking about our crowds as the envy of the league," said Joe Dumars, Pistons president of basketball operations. "It just goes to show you how one foolish moment can change things."

Black eyes everywhere.

The high price of justice

That one foolish moment, compounded by another and another, will mean a mountain of games missed. Artest is gone for the season. Stephen Jackson and Jermaine O'Neal, who both went into the stands and began swinging, are out for 30 and 25 games, respectively. Wallace is gone for six. Others, with assorted shorter suspensions, bring the punishment to a whopping 143 games.

And you know what? It's appropriate -- particularly for Artest. He has become the NBA's crazy uncle, you never know when he'll go from amusing to dangerous, and if such severe punishment can salvage him and his enormous talent, the league has to lay it on now. Artest, unlike the other parties, had three chances to avoid this ugliness. The first was not to foul Wallace with less than a minute to go in the game. The second was not to lie on a scorer's table as if the whole night were a prop for his one-man show. And the third was his deliberate decision to enter the stands. Without that, this is nothing more than an ugly shouting match.

With it, it's international news.

So Artest deserves the hardest slap.

But if fans think Artest's ignition gives them license to floor the gas, they are dead wrong. Any fan discovered on tape to have instigated anything should be both prosecuted by law and banned from the Palace forever. Yes, forever. Attending sporting events is not some unalienable right. It says on most tickets the arena reserves the right to eject people. Consider them ejected. Permanently.

Season-ticket holders? Revoke them. Who cares if it seems severe? As much as Artest crossed a line when he leapt into the seats, the fans crossed a line when they went from observers to participants. Understand something, folks: You do not have the right to be a part of the game. Doesn't matter how much money you paid. Doesn't matter how much you think you know sports. Doesn't matter how many fantasy leagues you're in or how many radio talk shows you listen to. You do not count. Get it? You are not part of the game.

Oh. And by the way. Maybe the league wants to notice that the beverages being tossed Friday night were distinctly amber and pungent: as in beer. The hypocrisy of selling alcohol all night, then complaining when people behave like drunks, is beyond comment. Who says you have to sell booze at sporting events? Show me one law. Show me one mandate. David Stern, the NBA commissioner, can get high and mighty, but he surrenders credibility when he wags one hand at drunken behavior but hugs the beer companies' money with the other.

Black-eyed P's. Pistons. Pacers. Palace People. It's funny. While I'm sure he didn't invent it, Isiah Thomas was the first person I ever heard use the phrase "our house." It was back in the late 1980s, and Isiah was doing the prideful athlete thing, sticking out his chest at the Boston Celtics and talking about what they couldn't do "in our house."

Friday night, I heard fans utter the same thing. Our house! Our house!

Get over it. The Palace isn't the fans' house. The Palace isn't the players' house. The Palace is a place of business where customers and workers are rightfully expected to follow rules and demonstrate restraint. Who would behave like that in their own house anyhow?

Only fools who are deluded about "respect." That word is not something you lose when someone does something you don't like, and it is not something you gain with a fist. Respect comes by behaving respectfully.

Under that measure, nobody earned any Friday night. And just as a black eye discolors the boxer's face, the deed now spreads across the landscape, and we'll be paying for it, sadly, for years to come.

Roy Munson
11-22-2004, 03:03 PM
BS -- Artest was not mocking Wallace. He was doing the right thing up to the point that he ran into the crowd. Mitch Albom is missing that point and somehow saying that the fan had some quasi-legitimate reason for throwing the beverage at Artest.

Hindsight is too easy. What should have Ron done? Should he have laid on the score table? I don't know? Should he have gone over and sat on the bench? Yes, I guess that would have been a good idea. But some fool still might have thrown his coke at him. Should he have punched Ben Wallace? Looking back on it, I wish he would have.

Pretty sad when it turns out that fighting would have been the better response.

Pistoner
11-22-2004, 03:07 PM
I think that sums up the opinion of the majority of Piston Fans and Detroit Residents. Everyone involved shares responsibility and the fans that threw anything or entered the court should be punished. Banning the guilty fans is a good start. Beer sales should be halted at the start of the 3rd quarter. The suspensions were all neccessary. My condolences to the pacer fans.

indygeezer
11-22-2004, 03:21 PM
Not quite good enough Pistoner, we fans are being punished for actions that were at least in part caused by Piston fans. Until ALL fans of the Pistons feel the same pain ALL Pacers feel, we are not equal.

Pistoner
11-22-2004, 03:46 PM
What would you suggest they do? Pick three random players from the Pistons and suspend them?

I feel your pain indygeezer. I would be upset if 3 of our starters were suspended for that length of time. If the situation were reversed, I would be just as mad as pacer fans. I would feel that the penalties were too excessive. I'm not embarrassed to be from Detroit or be a Piston Fan, but I'm sad that this happened. I'm not trying to be confrontational. I know you are all on edge, as I would be. I'm just letting you know that I feel that the Detroit fans involved should be punished as much as legally possible. The fans that threw things should feel as much pain as pacer fans are (hopefully the courts will see to it), but I was at my house watching the game and no Piston players fought with the fans.
There is no reason that Piston Players should be suspended or that I should suffer.

Besides, I think the Pacers will still make the playoffs. Jermaine O'neal will be healthy and Artest won't be a distraction like he was in the playoffs last year. You could still come out of the East if your bench can play .500 ball until O'neal gets back.

debohstheman
11-22-2004, 04:10 PM
if our BENCH can play .500 ball?

you mean the 6 players we have???

what the hell...f the league..

waxman
11-22-2004, 05:31 PM
How was laying on the scorers table disrespecting anyone....and he convieniantly leaves out Wallace throwing **** at Artest...which IMO insighted the fans to start throwing ****.

McKeyFan
11-22-2004, 06:25 PM
Somebody--can't remember who--made the analogy of Dad whipping several kids when it was unclear who caused a fight among the siblings.

I agree that SOMETHING needs to be done as a message to ALL the Piston fans that fought and threw things. There's no way they can all be identified and punished, so you punish everybody.

Not a huge punishment: something like a game or two in an empty arena or a forfeiture of the next home game, roping off the first ten rows for 5 games (that still doesn't punish everybody), prohibiting sales of EVERYTHING, including beer for ten games, etc.

Time for a statement to be made on the other end.

ChicagoJ
11-22-2004, 06:36 PM
The other factual mistake is that JO never left the playing court - he fought fans on the court but NOT in the stands.


That one foolish moment, compounded by another and another, will mean a mountain of games missed. Artest is gone for the season. Stephen Jackson and Jermaine O'Neal, who both went into the stands and began swinging, are out for 30 and 25 games, respectively. Wallace is gone for six. Others, with assorted shorter suspensions, bring the punishment to a whopping 143 games.

:tsk:

Jerm
11-22-2004, 06:39 PM
I'm getting pretty tired of practically every article I read saying Artest was throwing punches as he went into the stands.

Jackson was the first person to throw a punch. Then "white hat guy" hitting Ron in back of the head twice. That is when Ron retalliated and threw his first punch. Granted he did grab the seemingly wrong person by the neck and put him on the ground, he didn't punch him.

Am I insane? Is this not how it happened?

waterjater
11-22-2004, 06:53 PM
I'm just letting you know that I feel that the Detroit fans involved should be punished as much as legally possible. The fans that threw things should feel as much pain as pacer fans are (hopefully the courts will see to it), but I was at my house watching the game and no Piston players fought with the fans.
There is no reason that Piston Players should be suspended or that I should suffer.


I agree with you wholeheartedly on making the offending fans pay.

Regarding Pistons players fighting fans??? WHY WOULD THEY!! They are at home on their home turf. Ben Wallace is a coward for what he did at home on his turf with 20,000 people backing him up. He put the league, all the players on both teams, the fans and the NBA at risk. HIS PENALTY IS GROSSLY UNDERSTATED. He lit the match and poured gasoline on the fire. He is as responsible as Artest for what occurred WITHOUT QUESTION.

The guy who lights the forest fire is responsible for the results!!!! And Stern let him get away with 6 days house arrest. Sheesh~!! I can live with the Artest and Jackson suspensions, but not JO's and not the shortness of Wallaces....the man showed no remorse whatsover!! He doesn't even think he did anything wrong. Here in lies the problem!

Water

Lord Helmet
11-22-2004, 07:38 PM
Somebody--can't remember who--made the analogy of Dad whipping several kids when it was unclear who caused a fight among the siblings.

I agree that SOMETHING needs to be done as a message to ALL the Piston fans that fought and threw things. There's no way they can all be identified and punished, so you punish everybody.

Not a huge punishment: something like a game or two in an empty arena or a forfeiture of the next home game, roping off the first ten rows for 5 games (that still doesn't punish everybody), prohibiting sales of EVERYTHING, including beer for ten games, etc.

Time for a statement to be made on the other end.
Agreed we Pacer fans basicly have been punished by having our Finals hopes and ring for Reggie thrown down the drain by Hitler I mean Stern.We have been punished badly enough.We have what 6 players?1 player bench?And the Pistons were acting all mad and hurt because of the players they lost to suspensions for the Bobcats game last night.Well they havn't even felt our pain.What makes me mad is that Stern won't do a damn thing to the Piston organization or the fans.