Saturday, November 20, 2004

NBA—Nasty Bully Association?

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 at 06:36 PM | permalink | Comments (3)

Any disciplinary action taken by the league will affect competitive balance, but the suspensions eventually levied in this case did so in a manner that benefitted the instigators (the Detroit Pistons and their fans).

Very few fans can afford to attend more than a couple of games per season, so being banned is a small price to pay to eliminate their team's prime competitor (who's next, Shaq or Dwyane Wade? Hmmm....). Criminal charges are also very unlikely, as it was probably the first offense for many of the fans anyway. The father and son who attacked a KC Royals coach without any provocation received no jail time and basically a slap on the wrist.

The proper way to deter such incidents is to place responsibility on the person who initiates the chain of events, i.e. if you start an altercation at a game, you are responsible for everything which follows. This means Ben Wallace should have been suspended for far, far more than six games. Furthermore, the host team, Detroit, should be banned from postseason play this season. If they are allowed to benefit from the behavior of their fans, then it is effectively open season on visiting players everywhere (the alternative is to reduce the suspensions to the Pacer players, though that would be an extremely unpopular move).

Sadly, with the collective bargaining agreement expiring this year, the timing couldn't be worse. The trust between players and ownership, tenuous at best, may be irreparably broken. The players were caught off guard by the first lockout when it was ruled owners did not have to pay them. Players will be prepared for that this time, and will go to the mattresses, so to speak. The result will be disastrous for the NBA.

posted by Ben Lange on November 21, 2004 08:28 PM

The KC example is why ALL of the pro leagues need to crack down on unruly fans. IIRC, the NFL got a restraining order against fans who threw ice balls at the visiting team a few years ago. I'm all for zero tolerance, especially when it's simply banning dirtbags from the stadia/arenas, rather than jail
time. However, jail time is sometimes appropriate, and should be meted out when necessary.

posted by timekeeper on November 21, 2004 08:41 PM

I was utterly shocked and dismayed at the vicious attack, outrageous hostility and dramatic disregard for public safety of NBA player Ron Artest.

Numerous print and media sources have documented the outrageous behavior and mind set of this unstable athlete. Here's a guy whose own father says, "I always thought Ron's temper would be his downfall in life."

This athletes past speaks for itself and we are not interested in seeing what the unstable menace of Artest's kind is capable of achieving next.

It is my humble opinion that the suspension was not long enough and should be extended indefinitely. Ron Artest should be banned from the Nation Basketball Association. A petition has been started to ban Ron Artest from the NBA at

posted by MArk on November 22, 2004 01:12 PM

Monday, November 15, 2004

We meet again...

Over the past week or so, I have seen a surprising number of search hits for "James Zetlen". Mr. Zetlen wrote a letter to the Seattle Times in December 2002, one that caught my eye and prompted a response, primarily because of his ludicrous assertion that Newsweek has a conservative bias. (He totally missed the point of the Michael Kelly column that he was bashing.) At first, I assumed he was auto-googling, but there have been too many hits to account for that. It had to be something else, but what?

Apparently, Zetlen is the force behind Sorry Everybody, the ridiculous website that all the unhinged anti-Bushes can go to let the rrest of the world know that they didn't vote for BusHitler. It's unsurprising that the site is run by a college kid from Seattle, since both are known for their aggresively liberal political leanings, but it is interesting (to me, at least), that I was the first person to bash his politics on the web. Advantage: Horologium!

posted at 08:36 AM | permalink | Comments (0)

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