Monday, November 22, 2004


It's moments like these, historical events that make a blog owner happy.

Nationally, this news is big. In the sports world, this news is huge. And in this state, this news is gimongousgantictastic! This state is buzzing with the events that took place in Detroit last Friday night.
To give you an idea of the atmosphere here, on my way into work this morning, I flipped through my usual collection of radio stations. I spent on average about five seconds per station and in those brief moments before I moved on to the next station, every radio program managed to mention something about Artest or the fights or Detroit - five seconds! That's a small indication how big the news is here.

I have coworkers from corporate out in D.C. emailing and IMing me asking me about what happened, what's the mood here, what do our fans think of the whole ordeal, what did I think of it, was the punishment appropriate. They've come to me for the inside track. The news is big out there, it's a typhoon in here.

And here's what I said:

When asked if Pacers fans here are embarrassed as to what happened. I said I don't believe they are for the most part. I think they are proud of their team, I think they are proud of their players who don't take anything from disgruntled fans. Was the Artest/Jackson/O'Neal reaction an over reaction? Probably. But something had to be done. If you saw the following Pacers game against the Orlando Magic, the players (the ones that were allowed to play, all six of them) got a standing ovation in Conseco Fieldhouse. No one here is embarrassed.

I tried to imagine what the outcome could have been had Ben Wallace shoved Reggie Miller instead of bad boy Ron Artest. What if it were nice guy Miller lying on that scoreboard table getting hit with the cup? What would Mr. Cool/Captain-Of-The-Team do? After thinking about it, I honestly think we'd see a very similar reaction and I don't mean Artest jumping into the stands on Miller's behalf.

I think we'd see Miller jump off that table and head into the stands kicking Detroit hide and not taking any names. Only what would be different this time would be 11 other Pacers on his heels parting the crowd like Moses at the Red Sea allowing Miller the chance to exact his revenge.

Artest got one Pacers escort instead of a whole team. Why? Because he's Artest. He has the brute strength and raw emotion of 11 other people and the Pacers that didn't join him, didn't feel Artest needed their help and they probably felt sorry for the fan(s) that was about to receive the shock of his life.

It's also perception. Artest as a person does not deserve to be assaulted by any means. But if you were forced to pick someone on the Indiana Pacers team to get hit by a flying object and have that action have the smallest impact of unfairness, it's Artest. Not because of his hard foul on Ben Wallace but because of his reputation, his past. If you believe in Karma, Artest was probably the closest to have it coming. Miller is Mr. Nice Guy. Any unprovoked assault on him would have been unjust in the extreme and the demons of holy hells would be raised to punish those who upset this balance in the universe.

To avoid confusion, I do not condone the assault that happened to Ron Artest. It was completely unprovoked. I support this man and his decision to take his own action 100%. I'm only talking about behavior and perception here which might provide insight to the common reactions we're hearing and the punishments that were delivered.

As much as Commish David Stern and the NBA deny it, this is good for business. This NASCAR's the NBA up a bit and in this day and age of fear, people want to see blood.

You have to realize, many NBA players, Artest included, are just thugs off the street who are handed everything overnight they ever wanted materially. Your racial sensitivity monitor might be starting to beep right about now, but this isn't racial. I'm talking about members of a certain club, two clubs: NBA and NBA fans and both groups have quite a racial mix.

These NBA players didn't go to behavior school, there are no NBA courses on how to deal with the sudden changes to their lifestyle that they receive. There are players in the NBA taken out of inner city pressure spots where the living atmosphere from day to day is kill or be killed and these kids are then put into a camp where they dedicate at least a decade of their life to working hard physically and they're expected to act like Mother Theresa with a mean slam dunk. The fact that events like the one in Detroit don't happen more often astounds me. I don't know what else you expect from these players especially when you put them in a building with more thugs directly off the street and with little to no security.

I understand Detroit's reaction. They are the embarassed ones. It was 3 vs. 3000 on (inter)national television and the three (eventually) walked away. Talk about a loss of town pride.

Anyway, I like to see things shaken up. I like to see systems undergo constant change. This will be an interesting time for the NBA and a moment that will not be soon forgotten. But like I said, it's a good thing.

The funniest thing I've heard so far out of this whole ordeal was a comedy skit where a radio personality who was doing an impersonation of former NBA player and current NBA commentator Charles Barkley, was asked what he would've done in that situation, he replied, "I would've gotten up and punched Bill Walton right in the face. How come out of all those fights, nobody went over to Bill Walton and gave him a piece."