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I was going to lay off the sports this week, mainly out of pure disgust over the NFL Apologevent that was the opening skit for Monday Night Football. Oh. My. God. Every damn time I've watched a game for the last two years, I've been treated to those godawful Coors Light "Twins" commercials, which refer to "twins" in exactly the same way that "Hooters" refers to the owl in their nudge, nudge, wink, wink logo. If it were up to me, I'd make Bruce Smith and John Elway wait an extra year to be admitted to the Hall of Fame for that reason alone. How those commercials differ substantially from a commercial for Desperate Housewives featuring Nicolette Sheridan wrapped in a towel, I do not know.

But anyway. While I was watching SU cruise to its victory in the Coaches v. Cancer tournament, the real show was happening in Detroit, where a Pacers-Pistons game was called on account of violence. Watch ESPNews over the next day or three, and it'll be impossible to miss. In fact, it was nearly impossible for me to stop watching for the better part of an hour. A brawl between Ron Artest and Ben Wallace broke out on the court, and then, as it was settling down, someone in the crowd threw his beverage at Artest, who promptly rushed into the crowd swinging and was followed by several teammates. Minutes later, after everything from popcorn to beer to a chair was thrown at the Pacers players, the game was called. Fans were rushing the court and confronting players, fists were flying, and hooliganism was the rule.

Shameful. On all accounts.

But what they didn't talk much about, except to dismiss it quickly, was the initial incident. Put it in its full context: The Pistons are playing at home, and losing by 15 points to a pretty fierce rival with a minute left. Their best player (B Wallace) goes in for a layup or dunk (I can't recall which)--their best player who just returned from injury, if I remember correctly--and he gets chucked from behind, flagrantly in my opinion, by Artest. Should he retaliate? Of course not. But that foul was late, cheap, from behind, flagrant, and completely unnecessary--the Pistons weren't going to erase a 15 point deficit in less than a minute. Wallace was out of control, as were the Pacers and the fans later on, but none of it would have happened without Artest instigating.

He's a great player--I rue the day the Bulls gave him up for a song--but he's by far the biggest head case in the NBA, and it should be clear by now that he's not going to stop that kind of crap if left to his own devices. I totally agree with Ray Ratto that we're in for lots of apologies, lots of hand-wringing, and no real changes, but if I could see one genuine penalty handed out, I'd like to see the NBA give Artest the month off he was asking for. His behavior didn't warrant the shameful display that followed, but it most certainly caused it.


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Can't say much about the game, but you're so right on about the twins and desperate housewives commercials. The hypocrisy in all the outcry is alarming.

Did you see this Tim Legler commentary? I dunno about this one....

I didn't see the game (actually, I was watching it for a while but it was kinda boring so I went to bed), but I saw plenty in replay, and while I see Legler's point, the fact of the matter is the players left the court and went into the stands to punch a guy for throwing a beer. Obviously, the fan shouldn't have thrown the beer and should be prosecuted if they can catch him. But IMO, that isn't enough of a provoke a riot.

If I was the Stern, I'd come down like a ton of bricks, something like forcing both teams to forfeit a dozen games or something like that. But of course, I'm not in charge....

I still say the outrage is that that event will get more media airplay, more bar stool debate, and more severe punishments than gets handed down in the "real" world. Why didn't ESPN refuse to air the footage? Why didn't they refuse to dignify the events--because it is news--is it really? That is what passes for news?

One of the worst things about it to me is the way the talking ESPN heads have condoned Artest's actions. It is up to the player to be above the frey, and about once a year, they aren't. You can't win in a situation where you physically engage a fan. And the people that say "well, they put up with so much abuse from the fans that sometimes they have to snap," well, MJ never had to go after a fan. He'd look over at the sidelines and silence them with his game, sly smile on his face. It becomes an indication of the quality of person who goes into the stands, and not the degree of fan abuse.

When the South Carolina-Clemson game broke into a brawl today, the announcers began clucking their tongues and talking about what a terrible message all this sports violence is sending to today's youth. These same announcers work for the company that is replaying these frays, again and again. And in fact, this commentary was taking place while the SC-Clemson brawl was--yep--being replayed.

Becky, you beat me to it. I was going to update this post by pretending that Artest had flown down to SC to suit up for Clemson...

As far as Legler goes, I disagree with him on one major point: Artest knew that he had started it, and the smug look on his face as he went and lied down on the scorer's table suggested that he got out of it what he'd planned, which was to provoke Wallace. He didn't "back off"--he pretended to back off, which in itself is a version of taunting. Who lies down on the scorer's table? In what league is that considered kosher? There is a way to respond by "not responding," and that's what Artest was doing--he was baiting Wallace all the way. How anyone who covers the NBA couldn't see that, I don't know. The fans there saw pretty clearly what was going on, which is why the nonsense didn't end with the on-court stuff...

Yes, and another snippet of media hypocrisy: in the Utah/BYU game just a few minutes ago, the announcers solemnly intoned that the ref had made a very conservative call in order "to avoid a repetition of what happened in South Carolina/Clemson. Donne moi une break.

The only disagreement I have with the comments on this blog thusfar is the intimation that the press SHOULDN'T be covering this. "Why didn't ESPN refuse to air the footage? Why didn't they refuse to dignify the events--because it is news--is it really? That is what passes for news?" Of course it is. It was the biggest sports story of the week, and it deserved to be covered because it happened. This is like the Repub's who've gotten upset about the Marine shooting video being shown on the news. It happened, and therefore should have been shown.