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Next Pistons, Pacers Match As Professional Boxers

By Yong-yi Zhu

SPORTS COLUMNIST

Remember last year when it was expected that the city of Detroit would self destruct should the Pistons win the NBA Championship?

Well, the destruction was coming, just bit belatedly. It blossomed this past Friday when Ben Wallace, Ron Artest, Stephen Jackson and Jermaine O’Neal got into a scuffle not only with each other, but also with the fans at the Palace of Auburn Hills, the Pistons’ home stadium.

As Wallace was going up for a dunk at the end of the game, Ron Artest hit Wallace on the arm violently enough to upset him. Wallace ended up confronting Artest and shoved him rather viciously. Then the fighting began.

At first, it looked as though it would be a simple NBA fight. Players were getting in each other’s faces and coaches were trying to separate everyone from the big gathering at the scorer’s table. It appeared as though things would die down when Ron Artest sat down on the scorer’s table, grabbed a headset and started talking into it, instead of continuing to confront others.

But the Piston fans wouldn’t let things die. While Artest was lying on the scorer’s table, someone threw a full cup of ice at him, hitting him on the face. That drove Artest completely out of control. He and Stephen Jackson went into the stands and began to pummel the fans who were assaulting them.

After Artest left the crowd in the stands and returned to the court, another Pistons fan was waiting for him. Ron wasted no time bringing his fist to the man’s face. Jermaine O’Neal followed suit by decking the man again after Artest was dragged away by his coaches and teammates.

As the Pacers left for the lockers, the fans continued to pelt things at them, including drinks, trash and even chairs.

With so many people to blame, whose fault was this?

It really was a complete breakdown of everyone involved in the situation. Everyone involved had a hand in escalating the situation to another even more unacceptable level.

The players were out of line in jumping into the stands. Sure, the fans should not have thrown things at them. Sure, tempers were flaring at the end of that game. But in no way should they have assaulted the fans in the violent manner that they did.

The NBA did the right thing in suspending Artest, Jackson, O’Neal and Wallace indefinitely. They should be punished severely.

The fans were also completely out of their minds when they threw cups at the players. How drunk must those guys have been? Fans are warned not to go onto the playing field and not to throw objects onto the court. The fact that there was a fight going on should have been an indication to the fans that they should take the high road and not make the situation even worse.

Finally, the security at the Palace of Auburn Hills was not able to control anything that was happening. They tried to stop the players and the spectators, but were basically useless. It is true that security never in their right minds could have seen this coming, but they have a duty to be prepared in the event of such an emergency.

When something like this happens, we can wonder: why do we need Showtime or HBO to broadcast boxing fights when the NBA has fighting that’s far more entertaining? The executives at ESPN and ABC will greatly benefit from this. NBA ratings will skyrocket after this fight, which is just what they want. On Christmas day, when these two teams match up on national television, the ratings will be absolutely phenomenal. Don’t think David Stern was unhappy about this

Hopefully, though, this fight will prepare the league for future outbreaks. Don’t be surprised if security all over the league gets a complete overhaul because of this situation. I guess that is a good thing, but it is a real shame that something this bad had to happened before the NBA realized that things were not right.