What happened last night in Detroit was disgraceful. It is just one more black eye for professional (and I use term loosely) basketball here in the US. It's not enough that we have players who are paid millions, yet still lose to amateurs in the Olympics; these spoiled children get away with attempted murder (Latrell Sprewell) and assault (last night's contretemps, Dennis Rodman, and Vernon Maxwell) and demonstrate an inability to keep their pants zipped (I cannot count how many children have these mostly unmarried men fathered). The NBA's culture is deeply dysfunctional, and it cannot be blamed solely on young athletes sowing their oats, or not-quite-adult men unable to deal with fame and fortune; none of the other sports leagues have the lengthy list of incidents, despite having far larger rosters and longer seasons (baseball) or significantly more in-game violence (football and hockey).
The problem is that the NBA is unwilling to make an example of their problem children. Latrell Sprewell should NOT be playing basketball. The instigator of last night's brawl, Ron Artest, should not be playing either; he has a history of violence, and has been suspended eight times in the past two years by his team or by the NBA. This does not include the two games he was benched this year so he could promote his rap album. Anyone who has run afoul of the rules that many times in the military would be separated (under other than honorable conditions); anyone in a non-union job would be fired with a negative reference.
The NBA has suspended four players while an investigation is conducted. That's not enough; they need to be suspended without pay for the rest of the season, at the very least. The player's union will howl, but these prima donnas need to understand that there are consequences to their actions, and the league needs to do something to end the culture of violence that is being perpetuated by players who think that they can do whatever they want, without fear of repercussions.
The other half of the equation is the fans; the level of violence that the fans generate is just as bad. Riots and looting are commonplace after a team wins a championship. Fans were throwing CHAIRS onto the court, indicating an out-of-control fandom; the two spectators who charged onto the court are another example. The league needs to seek assault charges against unruly fans, and permanently ban them (with a court injunction) from all league games and events. Only then will the fans realize that they are guests in the arenas, and act accordingly.
UPDATE: Baldilocks feels the same way I do, and so do her commenters. RTWT.
posted on November 20, 2004 06:36 PM