Looks like Stern has decided to not fine the Pistons.
Word to wise guys
Stern treatment for foul fans
Here's a heads-up to all the hotheads out in Detroit and Indianapolis who live to heckle players and coaches and freely use profanity: Starting Jan. 1, you had better watch your language.
While David Stern continues to take steps to introduce a code of conduct for fans in the wake of the Detroit riot, league officials say that rules presently on the books governing fans' language and behavior are going to be enforced as never before, starting on New Year's Day.
"We do have rules on the books about how to deal with fans who use excessive profanity," deputy commissioner Russ Granik said Friday. "We've had fans taken out of the arenas who have gone over the line. But we have to take a whole new look at everything."
This is not a league-wide problem. It's mostly a Detroit problem, with Indiana and Sacramento also needing some tighter security. Stern says, "I'm not singling out any one city" and in announcing the suspensions Nov. 21, he failed to do that by not penalizing the Pistons. He should have hit them with a $1 million fine for negligence and a litany of previous problems, all involving failure to keep their fans in line. It's hard to imagine that Stern allowed his long-standing relationship with Detroit owner Bill Davidson to cloud his judgment, but he missed a chance to force the Pistons to clean up the inappropriately named Palace.
"I considered it," Stern said of a fine. "But I thought it was more important to penalize the players."
Having done that, he has turned his attention to security, league-wide. Detroit, Indiana and Sacramento are the first arenas where the present "one-warning system" really needs to be enforced. It's been on the books, but rarely used. But it's at the top of the list of rules that are going to be enforced, according to those familiar with the league's security plans.
When fans get out of line verbally with players, coaches or refs, rules state that they are to be given one warning by a security person to "cease and desist." That occurred in last month's Knicks-Celtics game at the Garden, when a fan who was sitting next to the Celtics bench and was riding Gary Payton pretty hard was given a warning. He complied. If he had not, and had been approached by security a second time, he would have been removed from the arena.
Under the current rules, a second ejection from the arena in the same season results in the ticket-holder losing his seat for the remainder of the season. In a case where a season-ticket holder has given tickets to a friend and the friend is guilty of breaking the heckling/profanity rules, the season-ticket holder would still be the one penalized.
The enforcement of those rules is what Stern talked about when he handed down the suspensions and said that security must be "aggressive" to make sure that fans "don't react badly."
They never react that badly in 90% of the league's arenas, anyway. But just the same, the Garden has beefed up its security in the lower bowl down at courtside in an effort to prevent any trouble. During Knicks games, green-jacketed security guards now sit at the foot of every aisle leading down to the court, even those across from the benches. During play, they sit with their backs to the court, watching fans. During stoppages, they have been instructed to walk up the stairs to the area where fans can first enter the lower-bowl seats. There, they refuse to let anyone down who doesn't have a ticket.
While those measures should go a long way to preventing trouble in New York, one area in which the league is sure to encounter resistance from its own teams involves beer sales. Some arenas, like the Meadowlands, cut off sales after three quarters. "Forget about cutting back on beer sales," said one league official. "That's where these teams make their money. They're not going to cut back when they can charge $7.50 (a beer) in some places."
Kidd's odds and end
With Jason Kidd returning to action, the meter is officially running on when the Nets deal him to a new team. Handicapping where Kidd will be sent before the Feb. 24 trading deadline:
Comment: T-Wolves might have to get a third team involved, so that the Nets come away with the young starter they seek.
Comment: Mavs have more assets than any team, starting with Devin Harris, Marquis Daniels and Josh Howard, but aren't in love with Kidd's long-term deal.
Comment: Blazers want Kidd more than Kidd wants Portland.
Comment: Nets have to think long and hard whether they'd take Andre Miller and Nene.
Comment: If you're the Kings and time is running out in the Chris Webber era, would you give up Peja Stojakovic? Heck, why not?
Comment: A Kobe-Kidd backcourt doesn't begin to address the lack of a superstar up front.
Herb Brown, Atlanta assistant and older brother of Larry, had his new book, "Let's Talk Defense!" hit bookstores recently. "It's my view on how to play defense - just what we're not doing," said Brown with a laugh. "I haven't gotten it across to our guys." With that collection of Hawks, who can? . . . Already without Jamal Mashburn and Baron Davis, the Hornets were well on their way down Lottery Road. Now they have also lost their center Jamaal Magloire, for three months with a broken finger. He had played in 11 games, averaging 14 points and nine rebounds. . . . The fact that the NBA has gone to federal court to make sure the suspensions of Ron Artest, Stephen Jackson and Jermaine O'Neal stand up tells you how critical this case is to David Stern.
It's hard to imagine that Jerry West is going to stick around with the Grizzlies after this season, with his power base shrinking. West, who had total power with the Lakers, is clearly not in charge in Memphis. Sources say he wanted to hire Eric Musselman as head coach to succeed Hubie Brown. Despite Musselman's losing record (75-89) with the Warriors, West is one of Musselman's biggest backers. But Grizzlies owner Michael Heisley wanted Mike Fratello to get the job. In a compromise that West can't like, Musselman is Fratello's No. 1 assistant.
Charlotte's Steve Smith has seen a lot of great big men in 14 seasons. Does Smith think rookie Emeka Okafor can be a foundation player for the Bobcats? "Back when I came in, and you were the first or second pick overall, you could do everything. You were supposed to do everything. Now, it's different. It remains to be seen if he can dominate like a Kevin Garnett or a Tim Duncan. . . . He can score, but it's not the typical big-man way, where he draws the double-team and commands the double-team."