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scar
11-23-2004, 06:34 AM
ESPN.com - NBA - Walton: Punishment too light

By Bill Walton
ESPN Insider

There's no other way to put it: I was stunned and flabbergasted by what I saw on the court at the end of the Detroit Pistons and Indiana Pacers game last Friday night, and I've been sickened and repulsed as I have looked back on the senseless violence that took place that night.

I've been around the NBA now for 30 years and Friday night was without a doubt the low point.

The foundation of the NBA took a cast of thousands decades to build.

In one night, Ron Artest and others tore it all down.
I've just been over-the-top saddened, embarrassed and struggling desperately and mightily to figure out ways to move forward. This is the NBA, professional basketball. It is supposed to be about fun. It is supposed to be about going to an event to have a good time. And as I consider what got us to this place, I'm reminded of the poster I have right here on my wall. It's got a big, beautiful eagle soaring above a majestic scene. The caption is, "An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind."

And now is a time for everyone to see.

It is a privilege and an honor to play in the NBA, and many people in that game Friday night have abrogated those privileges and disgraced the honor of the NBA.

This league has been built on the blood, sweat and tears of thousands upon thousands of people. The awful nature of the developments seen Friday night in Detroit -- players going into the stands, fighting fans -- has an incredible impact on every aspect of the game.

Everybody who has ever been involved with the NBA is going to have to now go to great lengths to explain themselves. All the goodwill that has been built up over decades has been damaged. The NBA has always been at the forefront at dealing with problems through education. And while the NBA has made great strides to convince the public of the greatness of our game -- we're in an entertainment and public relations business, after all -- that is a battle that has to be fought and won every single day.

That just is much more difficult now. The ability to attract fans -- what makes it fun, the experience, the atmosphere, the sense of happiness and joy and escape from real-world problems -- is the core aspect of the entertainment world. Now we have to start over. In just a few short seconds, to have it all come tumbling down, is a disgrace.

These games are played for the fans, and for the fans only. It has nothing to do with the players. I cannot imagine a scenario that would come up that would cause a player to go into the stands after the fans, which is why I believe NBA commissioner David Stern was just too nice, and the penalties he handed out -- a season-long suspension for Ron Artest and long-term suspensions for Stephen Jackson and Jermaine O'Neal, among others -- were inappropriately light.

To have this unprecedented level of violence, and then have the players' association and the players' agents coming out and trying to defend and make excuses for this atrocious behavior is just over the top. The excusers and enablers will say, "Well, when somebody throws a beer at you or yells at you, you're supposed to respond."

I do not understand that mentality. People have been yelling and screaming at me my entire life. You deal with it appropriately. I can't say strongly enough how wrong all the players were for going after the fans.

When you're dealing with antagonism, there are several approaches. When I was a player, people would be on my case, in my face, throwing things at me, yelling and screaming, and I always considered that inspiration. The only way to respond to a person so diametrically opposed to everything I'm doing, saying and stand for was to act with a level of class and dignity and professionalism. Ultimately, if you do that, the same person who was confronting you will come to respect you for doing your job.

Looking back at the sacrifices of the thousands of ex-players and hundreds of current players who are outstanding citizens and behave themselves on a regular, day-by-day basis ... to have it all be dragged down by the senseless and foolish violence we saw Friday night is embarrassing and sad. The incentive is there now to go after the other teams' star players, to provoke and start these reprehensible acts. It all comes back to a player's professional responsibility to prepare himself for everything. The same way you prepare yourself for a game-winning shot, or step to the free throw line with the game on the line and everybody yelling at you, that's the same way you prepare for when violence breaks out. This is supposed to be a celebration of good times. Isn't that the whole reason we have sports? So people can settle their prideful differences without resorting to violence? There are no winners in this whole fiasco.

Yes, the fans are tough. But that's no excuse. I don't think it's inevitable that an event like this would occur. The players need to start listening to the programs the NBA offers them, starting from rookie orientation, on how to deal with every single issue they could face. One of those issues is how to deal with out-of-control fans. It's the same way you do it out on the streets -- you call the authorities. We're supposed to have a civilized society here in the United States, where you don't just resort to vigilante justice. There are people who are well trained to deal with others who are out of control. People who are in the public arena and don't prepare themselves for these possibilities are doing themselves, the NBA and our culture a disservice.

The impact on the court will be very tangible for the Pacers. It's going to be extremely difficult for Indiana to have any kind of season. This will stay with them and their players even beyond this season. Detroit is the best team in basketball, and will be able to recover from this. But this really creates an even greater opening for the Miami Heat, who now have an easier path and one less team to go through toward the Eastern Conference championship.

But it's in the court of public opinion where the game is most damaged. I'm a very active member in the NBA retired players' association and I've spoken to hundreds of ex-players and coaches. The shock and dismay as to what went down on that court is astounding. The lives of professional athletes and entertainers are so tenuous, anyway. To have that delicate balance thrown so far out of kilter is disgusting and senseless.

The season was off to a great start, from the momentum of the China games to the excitement of new teams and emerging stars, Grant Hill's return to terrific rookies. Friday's events make the past NBA nonsense of Latrell Sprewell and Alonzo Mourning and Ron Artest's requests for time off all look miniscule. Now everyone in the NBA family is in a position of having to start all over.

We're just getting started in terms of how this will be addressed, but I do know that in the leadership, commitment and vision of David Stern, all of us in the NBA have a real chance of making it work. The fans have to believe in the credibility of the product, believe in the validity of the competition and believe that they can have a safe and entertaining time.

Now, so many more dangerous and needless questions are being asked. Those will be forced into the equation of the fans' decisions as to how to spend their time and money.

It's staggering, and just so depressing. I've had an extremely difficult time personally trying to move beyond this. This is all of our lives. The responsibility of the participants toward the ongoing promotion of the game itself, and the business of the game, cannot be taken lightly. We need to reclaim the game, and taking that responsibility seriously is the best place to begin.

Shade
11-23-2004, 11:27 AM
Has one man every talked so much, and yet said so little? :rolleyes:

Graywolf_59
11-23-2004, 12:45 PM
ESPN.com - NBA - Walton: Punishment too light

By Bill Walton
ESPN Insider

There's no other way to put it: I was stunned and flabbergasted by what I saw on the court at the end of the Detroit Pistons and Indiana Pacers game last Friday night, and I've been sickened and repulsed as I have looked back on the senseless violence that took place that night.

I've been around the NBA now for 30 years and Friday night was without a doubt the low point.

The foundation of the NBA took a cast of thousands decades to build.

In one night, Ron Artest and others tore it all down.
I've just been over-the-top saddened, embarrassed and struggling desperately and mightily to figure out ways to move forward. This is the NBA, professional basketball. It is supposed to be about fun. It is supposed to be about going to an event to have a good time. And as I consider what got us to this place, I'm reminded of the poster I have right here on my wall. It's got a big, beautiful eagle soaring above a majestic scene. The caption is, "An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind."

And now is a time for everyone to see.

It is a privilege and an honor to play in the NBA, and many people in that game Friday night have abrogated those privileges and disgraced the honor of the NBA.

This league has been built on the blood, sweat and tears of thousands upon thousands of people. The awful nature of the developments seen Friday night in Detroit -- players going into the stands, fighting fans -- has an incredible impact on every aspect of the game.

Everybody who has ever been involved with the NBA is going to have to now go to great lengths to explain themselves. All the goodwill that has been built up over decades has been damaged. The NBA has always been at the forefront at dealing with problems through education. And while the NBA has made great strides to convince the public of the greatness of our game -- we're in an entertainment and public relations business, after all -- that is a battle that has to be fought and won every single day.

That just is much more difficult now. The ability to attract fans -- what makes it fun, the experience, the atmosphere, the sense of happiness and joy and escape from real-world problems -- is the core aspect of the entertainment world. Now we have to start over. In just a few short seconds, to have it all come tumbling down, is a disgrace.

These games are played for the fans, and for the fans only. It has nothing to do with the players. I cannot imagine a scenario that would come up that would cause a player to go into the stands after the fans, which is why I believe NBA commissioner David Stern was just too nice, and the penalties he handed out -- a season-long suspension for Ron Artest and long-term suspensions for Stephen Jackson and Jermaine O'Neal, among others -- were inappropriately light.

To have this unprecedented level of violence, and then have the players' association and the players' agents coming out and trying to defend and make excuses for this atrocious behavior is just over the top. The excusers and enablers will say, "Well, when somebody throws a beer at you or yells at you, you're supposed to respond."

I do not understand that mentality. People have been yelling and screaming at me my entire life. You deal with it appropriately. I can't say strongly enough how wrong all the players were for going after the fans.

When you're dealing with antagonism, there are several approaches. When I was a player, people would be on my case, in my face, throwing things at me, yelling and screaming, and I always considered that inspiration. The only way to respond to a person so diametrically opposed to everything I'm doing, saying and stand for was to act with a level of class and dignity and professionalism. Ultimately, if you do that, the same person who was confronting you will come to respect you for doing your job.

Looking back at the sacrifices of the thousands of ex-players and hundreds of current players who are outstanding citizens and behave themselves on a regular, day-by-day basis ... to have it all be dragged down by the senseless and foolish violence we saw Friday night is embarrassing and sad. The incentive is there now to go after the other teams' star players, to provoke and start these reprehensible acts. It all comes back to a player's professional responsibility to prepare himself for everything. The same way you prepare yourself for a game-winning shot, or step to the free throw line with the game on the line and everybody yelling at you, that's the same way you prepare for when violence breaks out. This is supposed to be a celebration of good times. Isn't that the whole reason we have sports? So people can settle their prideful differences without resorting to violence? There are no winners in this whole fiasco.

Yes, the fans are tough. But that's no excuse. I don't think it's inevitable that an event like this would occur. The players need to start listening to the programs the NBA offers them, starting from rookie orientation, on how to deal with every single issue they could face. One of those issues is how to deal with out-of-control fans. It's the same way you do it out on the streets -- you call the authorities. We're supposed to have a civilized society here in the United States, where you don't just resort to vigilante justice. There are people who are well trained to deal with others who are out of control. People who are in the public arena and don't prepare themselves for these possibilities are doing themselves, the NBA and our culture a disservice.

The impact on the court will be very tangible for the Pacers. It's going to be extremely difficult for Indiana to have any kind of season. This will stay with them and their players even beyond this season. Detroit is the best team in basketball, and will be able to recover from this. But this really creates an even greater opening for the Miami Heat, who now have an easier path and one less team to go through toward the Eastern Conference championship.

But it's in the court of public opinion where the game is most damaged. I'm a very active member in the NBA retired players' association and I've spoken to hundreds of ex-players and coaches. The shock and dismay as to what went down on that court is astounding. The lives of professional athletes and entertainers are so tenuous, anyway. To have that delicate balance thrown so far out of kilter is disgusting and senseless.

The season was off to a great start, from the momentum of the China games to the excitement of new teams and emerging stars, Grant Hill's return to terrific rookies. Friday's events make the past NBA nonsense of Latrell Sprewell and Alonzo Mourning and Ron Artest's requests for time off all look miniscule. Now everyone in the NBA family is in a position of having to start all over.

We're just getting started in terms of how this will be addressed, but I do know that in the leadership, commitment and vision of David Stern, all of us in the NBA have a real chance of making it work. The fans have to believe in the credibility of the product, believe in the validity of the competition and believe that they can have a safe and entertaining time.

Now, so many more dangerous and needless questions are being asked. Those will be forced into the equation of the fans' decisions as to how to spend their time and money.

It's staggering, and just so depressing. I've had an extremely difficult time personally trying to move beyond this. This is all of our lives. The responsibility of the participants toward the ongoing promotion of the game itself, and the business of the game, cannot be taken lightly. We need to reclaim the game, and taking that responsibility seriously is the best place to begin.
F&^k Walton.......He talk's so much and say's nothing the whole time.....He was a big waste as a player....and an even bigger waste as a announcer....I really can't stand this big Dumb @$$!

canyoufeelit
11-23-2004, 01:39 PM
Bill Walton isn't even my favorite over-the-top announcer. Kevin Harlan is the man.

//mh//
11-23-2004, 02:22 PM
Who else but Walton would use the word "abrogated"?

It's pretty obvious when someone has purchased the "Verbal Advantage" set of tapes. :)