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Lou Pickney's Online Commentary

National Brawling Association

November 23, 2004

People have been talking, and writing, about the Pistons/Pacers fight ad nauseum since it took place on Friday night. But I haven't addressed it on here yet, so I wanted to throw my take on it out there.

The whole melee in the stands was, obviously, out of line and unacceptable. By the same token, you can't have people throwing drinks at players.

More than anything though, there are some reactions to the ugly incident that have bothered me:

-Some people have called for limiting alcohol sales at NBA games as a result of the incident. Funny, I don't believe Ron Artest had any alcohol in his system when he charged into the crowd and attacked an innocent fan. You might say that it will make the fans less hostile, but it all comes down to personal responsibility. It shouldn't be something where it's mandated by the league or the team or, heaven forbid, the government enforcing some sort of rule about alcohol sales at games.

-People have criticized Jermaine O'Neal for cold-cocking the fat Pistons fan who ran into the fracas on the floor, but when someone does a run-in onto an NBA court, I think they get what they deserve. O'Neal was in the middle of a chaotic situation, and I feel that he was within his rights to do what he felt was necessary to defend himself.

Darko Milicic
Darko Milicic (left) seldom sees action for the Detroit Pistons.

-The fact that both teams had to immediately have their players start serving the suspensions was ridiculous. The Pacers had only six healthy players available the next night at home on Saturday (and only lost by three, amazingly), while on Sunday the Pistons had three guys foul out in a double OT win over the expansion Charlotte Bobcats, leaving them with only five guys available by the end of the game. Brutal. Couldn't they have staggered it out a bit for the guys with the one game suspensions? The only good part was that it forced the Pistons to play Darko Milicic, which is usually a prelude to high comedy on the NBA hardwood.

Overall, the incident looks really bad for the league, but I do think that NBA Commissioner David Stern overreacted by suspending Ron Artest for the rest of the season. The NBAPA is appealing, though the appeal goes... right back to Stern. So we'll see how that turns out.

My Tampa Bay Hustlers have clinched a playoff spot. That makes 11 straight years in the playoffs for me (1994-2004), which is a league record (Brook Gardiner's 9 straight year streak, from 1992-2000, is second-best all-time). If I beat Brook's Punishers this week, I'll clinch a first round bye (since I'd have the tie-breaker over the Punishers and I already have the tie-breaker over Phil)...

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