Another take on the incident, a Q and A approach...
The Malice in the Palace – A sad day for the NBA
I was half watching the Suns-Lakers game while doing NBA game news updates for Rotoworld.com when the phone rang. It was my sister-in-law, Liz (the same person who called and woke me up to tell me a plane had crashed into the WTC on 9/11) screaming “are you watching this s***?” I turned over to the end of the Pacers-Pistons game and then continued to watch ESPN News for the next couple hours.
It’s 3:35 a.m. now. I tried to go to bed, but I have too many questions swimming through my head about what I witnessed on television tonight. The game I love turned into a combination of Jerry Springer, Geraldo Rivera, Ali-Frazier and the WWF. I have so many questions running through my mind that I decided I just need to get out of bed and write them down.
Why did Ben Wallace react the way he did when Ron Artest fouled him?
- Yes, the foul was hard, he didn’t go for the ball and the game was over. But why did Wallace react so violently? He is probably still very emotional from attending his brother’s funeral and if you combine that with the fact that the Pacers absolutely dominated the Pistons in the game, you may have an answer. But I still don’t understand the need for him to react like such a thug. One more note about Ben Wallace. Did you notice that there wasn’t anything flying through the air until he decided to throw his wrist band and towel at Artest? I believe that it was at that moment that the fans started throwing stuff, and it is specifically that move that prompted the fan to throw the cup that hit Artest in the face. Two bad decisions by Wallace, and whether he can be held at fault for what ensued or not, he is clearly the spark that lit the fire. Twice.
Why did Artest foul Ben Wallace so hard?
- Because he’s Ron Artest and he likes to get under people’s skin. Simple as that. No one was more shocked at Ben’s reaction than Artest.
How did Artest and Rasheed Wallace remain so calm in the early stages of the melee?
- Two of the worst reputations in the league showed incredible poise and restraint before all hell broke loose. Artest quietly went and lay down on the scorer’s table - Chilled, if you will. Rasheed restrained teammates and tried to keep order. I was impressed by both of their initial reactions as things started to heat up on the floor.
Why did Derrick Coleman feel the need to engage Stephen Jackson, and had he been standing in front of his teammates instead of hiding behind them (typical D.C.), would he have been doing it?
- I’m going to say no.
Why was Stephen Jackson so angry?
- He looked like a man possessed, challenging everyone to a fight and looking for someone to throw with from the very beginning. Imagine what he’d have been like had he played with the Pacers for the past three years and knew these guys like they were his own brothers? Or, if his family was being threatened? Scary.
Where in the hell was security?
- It should not have been that easy for the players to get into the stands and it should not have been that easy for the fans to get to the floor. Had this game been close, God only knows what would have happened, because there would have been three times as many “fans” fighting the players. Luckily, many of them had already left.
Why were those punks going out onto the floor and challenging Pacer players to fist fights?
- Jermaine O’Neal hit one of them with a haymaker in the jaw. In my opinion, he should not be punished for that punch at all. Once a “fan” steps onto the playing field, regardless of the sport, they are fair game. It’s sort of like some jackass climbing the fence at Daytona during the big race, getting mowed down by Jeff Gordon at 210 mph and then suing him for running him over. You step inside the lines, you are going down, regardless of the sport.
Why did Artest go into the stands?
- He had remained so calm up to that point, but he obviously thought he knew where the cup came from and went after the guy. He got the wrong guy, but he was close. Had the cup of beer come from the upper deck, he wouldn’t have done anything. He took it as a personal attack because he was confident he knew who did it. However, he should not have gone into the stands, obviously.
Why did ESPN play-by-play man Mike Breen say “one of the most ugliest incidents” when telling the story afterwards?
- Probably because he was still shaken up after almost being killed.
What would you be doing right now had you been in the third row behind the Piston’s bench with your six year-old daughter?
- I’ll tell you what I’d be doing. I’d be consoling her and letting her know that she’s going to be ok (if she was lucky enough to not be stepped on by a player, sucker punched by a “fan” or hit by a chair) and then I’d be visiting my lawyer to attempt to get the NBA, Pistons and Pacers for every dime I could. There are a lot of innocent Pistons fans that are going to be filing lawsuits tomorrow. Did you see the little kid consoling his younger brother, who was bawling, shaking with fear? That picture put the whole thing in perspective. Yeah, fights during games are entertaining and exciting, but this one stopped resembling any kind of cool pretty quickly. In fact, I’m not sure I’ve had a feeling in my stomach any where comparable to this since 9/11. You cannot compare the two events, but this was disturbing and sad to watch.
Will I be able to enjoy a beer at the next sporting event I go to?
- Maybe not. Remember how funny it was when Janet’s breast was exposed during the Super Bowl? Yeah, you and your boys Tivo’d it back a few times, had a laugh and then got another beer and moved on, thinking it was over. It’s still not over now, as American television has a censorship crisis on its hands the likes of nothing we’ve ever seen before.
This brawl in Detroit is going to have every single professional sports team questioning whether it should sell alcohol at its games any more. Maybe that’s a good thing, as I am getting tired of paying $8-10 for a beer anyway. I am an educated, college graduate who should know better than to pay $8-10 for one beer when I know I can buy a case of Pabst for about the same price at the grocery store. Regardless, I’d like to still have the option of buying a beer at a game. You are probably saying to yourself that this will never happen, but don’t be so sure. What happened tonight is also going to impact the way NBA arenas are set up and I wouldn’t even rule out a hockey rink type of wall. Yeah, it sucks, but I really think that’s where we’re headed. They might as well make them bullet proof while they’re at it, because that’s where we’re headed eventually.
How was only one person sent to the hospital and no one seriously injured?
- I imagine there are games at Auburn Hills where 12 people sprain their ankles and seek medical treatment when there isn’t a brawl. The fact no one was seriously hurt is incredible.
What are the ramifications going to be?
- I really don’t know. I hope the “fans” who threw stuff get arrested, prosecuted and banned. As for the players (hey, some fantasy info!), I see Artest and Jackson getting 10 games a piece, maybe more. They could also end up in jail, depending on what the Auburn Hills prosecutors think of their videotaped low-lights. Ben Wallace will probably get 2-5 games. Every player on both teams left the bench, except for maybe Tayshaun Prince. However, this situation was a little different, and with no law enforcement in sight, had they not gone in to get Jackson and Artest out of the stands, who knows what would have happened?
What are the Pacers going to do?
- They are already down to seven healthy guys and after the suspensions come down, they may not have enough guys to field a team. We could actually see the Pacers forfeit games. Unfortunately for Indiana, they clearly put the smack down on the Pistons and played the better game, but they will be hit the hardest because Wallace went after Artest, thugs in the stands acted like morons and Artest and Jackson couldn’t control themselves.
Why was the only cop I saw on television casually ignoring O’Neal and Jackson as they were fighting with fans in the stands within one foot of him?
- I have no idea, but he should be given a desk job instead of getting a free ticket to 41 NBA games a year.
What is going to happen on Christmas day when the Pistons visit Conseco Fieldhouse?
- I am predicting that both teams get together and have a love fest before this game. They are going to look at the tape and realize the danger their stupidity put thousands of innocent people in. They are going to kiss and make up and the Pacer fans will be on a mission to prove they’re above the Detroit fans. There will be no fighting and there will be nothing but love from both sides, trust me. David Stern may even pass some sort of rule that Pacers and Pistons must show public affection for each other from now on.
What is going to happen on Thanksgiving, when the Colts visit the Lions?
- Probably nothing, except a huge day from Peyton and the boys, but I could see some Colts fans road tripping to Detroit to see what kind of trouble they can cause. Thursday is close enough that the love fest will not have begun yet, so anything’s possible.
When will the NBA recover from this incident?
- Tomorrow. Much like T.O.’s stunt with Desperate Housewives to open Monday Night Football, Artest’s genius promotional record-selling stunt a couple weeks ago, Rudy T. taking a death punch 20 years ago and Vernon Maxwell diving into the stands to hit a fan back in the day, the NBA will get an unbelievable amount of free publicity from this. They will be just fine, don’t worry.
The real question is where does it end?
- I don’t know and I don’t really care to find out. I’m going to bed now.
Steve Alexander - Dr. A (rotoworld.com)