I’ve sat down to write a Journal entry on the riot at the Palace Of Auburn Hills….and I have no idea what to say. Well, except that the whole thing was utterly disgusting.
As most everyone [especially ones that would be reading my journal] knows, with 45 seconds left between the Pistons and Pacers Friday night….a minor scuffle broke out between Ben Wallace and Ron Artest over a “hard foul”. When things cooled down….a fan threw a cup of water/beer/soda at Ron Artest and hit in square in the face. Artest went into the stands to take on the fan….the all hell breaks loose.
I’ve never seen anything like this in sports. Ever. It looked like that bowling alley brawl Allen Iverson was in back in his high school days. It looked like a McDonalds riot I witnessed back in my high school days. It looked like a South American soccer game.
It is one of those instances that everyone has blame…though you can side with everyone as well. Everyone involved in the fight is proud of themselves that they didn’t take anyone’s crap. The players showed the fans…..the fans stood up to a huge player. You’ll have Mr. I Threw The Beer At Ron Artest….and Mr. I Got On The Court And Challenged The Pacers….and Mr. I Didn’t Do Anything But Threw A Few Sucker Punches When Their Back Was To Me….and Mr. I Am A Woman And Threw A Chair. Real heroes, huh.
THE FANS AT FAULT. I’m not putting sole blame on the fans on this point…..but this just keeps proving my point of fans misunderstanding of why they are there. Fans buy their ticket…and feel that gives them license to do whatever they want. Sure, it is one thing to boo and shout that people suck, or come up with a clever poster or outfit…but to physically harm someone on the court by throwing something on the court is UNEXCUSABLE!! Who should be subjected to having a beverage thrown at them??? And from a distance that is higher up that where you are?? Even so…there were many people in those stands that had nothing to do with that…yet were affected my the fight.
Also, if you go on the court….you should be automatically arrested no matter what and, basically, responsible for what happens to you once you get there. If you go on the court to fight a player and he decks you in the nose….hey, your fault buddy.
Of course, many of those fans will be filing their own lawsuits. This is America where we sue anyone that bothers us. I mean, a rich NBA guy hit them. Although only one person was hospitalized and no one has been arrested yet…..look for the mobilization of lawyers talking people into civil suits.
THE PACERS. I know I am contradicting myself here….but you just can’t go into the stands. I know, as an athlete, you are expected to take a lot of abuse that most other people don’t have to take while they are working…but it is part of the job description. NO, you should never have to have things thrown at you. If it happens….security should be notified and arrests need to be made. You can’t go into the stands. If Artest and Stephen Jackson never went into the crowd…none of this would have happened. The calm Artest uncharacteristically showed by not responding to Wallace’s shove could have been demonstrated when the fan threw something at him.
Of course, as a man…you are not going to take that crap. But, as you and I know…you don’t get to fight for free. If this was done as some bar down the street where the game was being watched…we’d all be in the paddy wagon.
THE PISTONS, EXCLUDING RASHEED WALLACE. Where were they?? Ben Wallace overreacted to Artest’s “hard foul” the foul wasn’t malicious nor could have caused injury to Wallace. I know he was frustrated…with losing to their current rival at home…but it was stupid and pointless to start something.
The Pistons franchise will be fined HARD for this. While it isn’t their fault for what initially occurred…how in the heck did fans freely get on to the court??? The fans were throwing beer, popcorn, bottles, sodas, food and whatever may have been in their pockets at the players like it was some staged WWE match.
WHAT COULD HAVE BEEN….WOMEN AND CHILDREN FIRST How many women and children were in the areas of the melee?? Or people, in general, that had nothing to do with this? Technically…itwas the fan who threw the beer against Artest….but, Artest went into the crowd swinging…and then fans took that as an excuse to start wailing on him. There was no regard to who was around. You saw kids crying and scared. A woman lying on the ground. I’m sure everyone around was quite frightened. The BLESSING, I mean a complete BLESSINGin this was the fact that the Pacers had a comfortable lead in this game. Because of that, many fans had already left the game. Imaging if it was a close game and those crowds were as full as they were about 15 minutes before the riot?? My God. You could’ve had someone trampled….even more serious injuries…and a longer, bloodier battle.
STUPID SOLUTIONS. So how do you fix this?? I doubt it will. In the many games played Friday night….this was the only one with an incident. Though the fuel is all there….they aren’t going to ban anything because of this one fight. Beer sales won’t be effected. As we all know, beer sales are a huge money maker for arenas and NBA franchises. No, they aren’t going to push the front row of seats back either. Obviously, the wealthiest fans without a luxury box sit there. So, eliminating them is not an option. The truth is, aside from maybe a tighter security setup, nothing will be done.
Also, I seriously doubt that the NBA will be devastated by this. I mean, this is America…and we like to be shocked. This was certainly shocking! But, just as the Kings-Laker fight in the preseason of 2002 showed….fights just make rivalries more intense from the fans and players….not the mention the media. Of course, the damage will be done by the already perceived image of NBA players and overgrown, overpaid thugs. Certain people will point at this and say, “I told you they are nothing by animals!”
Suspensions are imminent. Ben Wallace will be suspended a couple of games for starting it with Artest. Ron Artest, Stephen Jackson and Jermaine O’Neal will all get substantial suspensions. Possibly 10-15 games each. Plus, if the NBA goes by it’s policy of suspending players who “leave the bench”…then everyone most likely misses a few games.
REACTION FROM THE LAKER BOARD I FREQUENT:
JOHNNYSEE: Coupla things; Artest had to climb five rows over half a dozen people to "defend" himself and when he got there, he attacked the wrong guy. Then, a minute later, he decked a fan that came out on the floor. Don't get me wrong. As a guy, I understand why he snapped. But he snapped - that's what happened here. The guy handled the Wallace shove perfectly - backed away even as Ben kept advancing and then layed down on the scorers table - great move! Then came the shower and, bam! He was up and gone... Bad move. Understandable move, but ultimately, very very bad. It's going to be an interesting couple of days while the league figures out what to do about this. For all we know, Artest and others may not even play for the rest of the season. One thing's certain, Detroit fans - or the ones involved in this - are pigs. I don't know who deserves what - an argument can be made that they were just protecting themselves... but it's a losing argument. You don't protect yourself by climbing into the stands. That's how you retaliate. Artest and Jackson are staring at what will probably be the most severe punishment and penalties in all of professional sports as the result of what has to be the worst fight in the history of professional sports. They didn't even finish the game, for Godssake. That's never happened, either.
KEYGRIP. I'll tell you what, if what I saw transpire is all there was to it, Stephen Jackson should get more of a punishment than Artest. I didn't see Jackson get hit by anyone, but he ran into the stands and started throwing punches. Artest had bottles and cups thrown at him before he got into it with fans, if none of the fans did anything to Jackson he's got a more severe punishment coming to him. Or should. Then again, unfortunately, Artest threw some shots at a fan that seemed to have nothing to do with it. It's a whole big MESS. This is the type of nonsense you usually see in baseball. Last year during the Finals a guy physically confronted Karl Malone too. From the angle of the camera I couldn't tell if he was on the court, but he was pretty damn close. Plus, other fans who were in the stands last night said that some of the fans were calling players "n*****." So although I don't condone Artest getting the nearest guy who looked to be the wrong person (that didn't throw anything at him), I got no problem whatsoever with what Artest did. Yeah, it's retaliation, and so is self defense. You throw out that slur you get your [buttocks] kicked. Point blank.
JOOHN K There is a certain image you have to retain as a professional athlete, getting hit with stuff happens, what he hsould of done was walked into the locker room and said forget this place, we kicked there [buttocks] I'm out of here. At NO point do you react like he reacted, he should of let the fan get the punishment, instead he escalated the entire thing.
JROWE. Yikes. I just saw more of the footage on the sports segment. Lots of action, and even embedded circles to show key parts of the brawl. Jermaine O'Neal will also get a suspension, as will Stephen Jackson. Artest was getting treatment, when a cup of beer was thrown on him. He's volatile and everyone knew he was going to go after that fan. If they find the fan, that seems to be assault and battery.
The fans are another thing. They should try and find as many as possible and prosecute with the heaviest fines and imprisonment possible. They contribute mightily to the action, in terms of thrown objects and liquids. This is insightful behavior, and how many of these guys were drunk? Add to that, a number of fans went out on the court. Also shown on the sports segment, was the police reviewing footage to identify non-players. They think that a fat guy is a media member who got involved (they showed what appeared to be a media credential hanging from his neck).
YCS. Artest through a hard foul at Wallace that deserves to be looked at but I don't think it warrants a suspension. The move into the stands warrants a suspension. That ignited the whole thing and put him in the situatio that followed. That warrants a suspension as well as throwing that initial punch, at the wrong guy I might add. After that, I can't find anything here that you can suspend him for. And I definitely can't find fault in his teammates actions afterwards. YOU DO NOT LEAVE A TEAMMATE IN THE STANDS AGAINST A MOB ON HIS OWN. You have to come help him. Whether it be by fighting or by getting him out of there, you can not just leave your teammate there. Looking at this thing as a whole, in this particular instance I side with the players. There has to be a way to stop people from thinking that they can do whatever they want just because they paid for those seats and feel pretty much unidentifiable because they are one of many. The mob mentality of sports crowds is a horrible thing.
There is a debate going on in here between self defense and retaliation. And it fits. The act of going into the crowd was retaliation by Artest and warrants suspesion. Every act from that ignition point on is in my opinion self defense. At that point every single one of the teammates is in protection mode. I applaud Jermaine O'neal, Fred Jones and Stephen Jackson for rushing to thier teammates side. Croshere for trying to get other people back, and basically every other player on that roster, coach, and assistant coach for doing what they did in trying to help artest. No it didn't help subdue the issue, but it was absolutely necessary. If the league suspends them because they feel they have to, I hope it's at a maximum one game.
KTMDOG.I was watching the thing on SC and I have to tell you, I don't blame the players at all. The detroit fans are lower than animals. They're cowards as well. MF's think paying a ciuple of hundred dollars gives them the right to physically assault people who are much larger and tougher than they are? I loved seeing the looks on the [unscrupulous fellows] eyes as they realized they were about to actually have to fight the players. Play with fire, get burned.
CHRISTMAS DAY 2004. Geez. First we had Shaq v Kobe. Now we also have the Pacers-Pistons first meeting since this riot. And the NBA and ABC knows EVERYONE will be watching.