Friday, November 19, 2004



(3 links to video coverage of the incident at the bottom of this article)

What happened at the NBA game in Detroit was a disgusting disgrace. Everyone involved, from the players to the fans, behaved in a shameful way. The NBA has deteriorated from a successful enterprise to a public relations nightmare culminating in tonight's fiasco.

Yahoo Sports: Fists were flying. So were cups, plastic bottles and even a chair in one of the ugliest NBA brawls ever -- and Indiana's Ron Artest was right in the middle of it. Artest and Stephen Jackson charged into the stands and fought with fans in the final minute of their game against the Detroit Pistons on Friday night, and the brawl forced an early end to the Pacers' 97-82 win.

Officials stopped the game with 45.9 seconds remaining after pushing and shoving between the teams spilled into the stands once fans got involved by throwing things at the players near the scorer's table. ``It's the ugliest thing I've seen as a coach or player,'' said Pistons coach Larry Brown, who was in the middle of the confrontation, trying to break it up.
It all started when Detroit's Ben Wallace went in for a layup and was fouled hard by Artest from behind, and escalated when Artest stormed into the stands after being hit by a full cup. After being fouled, Wallace wheeled around and pushed Artest in the face. The benches emptied and punches were thrown.

As the players continued shoving each other near center court and coaches tried to restore order, Artest sprawled out on his back on the scorer's table, looking relaxed. Just when it appeared tempers had died down, Artest was struck by a cup and beverage thrown from the stands. He jumped up, and charged into the stands, throwing punches as he climbed over seats.

Ron Artest: He was the one who added fuel to the fire of what was a tense situation. Artest did not do anything grievously wrong when he fouled Ben Wallace. Wallace overreacted when he shoved Artest but Artest did a good job of staying out of the ensuing fight. However, Artest made things so much worse when he flipped out after being hit by a plastic cup of beer.

Artest's leaping into the stands was horrific and dangerous. He put created a volatile situation for himself and the fans he attacked. Worse, he created a dangerous situation for innocent bystanders, including children, who were caught up in the melee. Ron Artest should be suspended for the rest of the season.

Ron Artest has been a major problem for the NBA. Just last week, Artest caught flak when he asked coach Rick Carlisle for time off because of a busy schedule that included promoting a soon-to-be released rap album, which led to his two-game benching.

Ben Wallace: Shoving Artest in the face was an immature act that was the catalyst for the whole unfolding fiasco. Acting in a way that has become all too commonplace in the NBA, Wallace took umbrage that Artest had the audacity to foul him. Wallace continued to behave like a spoiled brat during the nascent fight by continuing to shout at the members of the Indiana Pacers and even throwing a towel at them.

Stephen Jackson: The way he reacted was especially scary. Jackson was itching for a fight. When the fight was still contained to the basketball court, he tugged at his shirt and put up his fights like he was some common street criminal. He followed Artest into the stands and swung wildly at a fan, slamming him across the face. Jackson even taunted the fans as he walked off the court. He should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

Rick Carlisle: Another coach who failed to criticize his players for acting so flagrently. When Carlisle was interviewed after the riot subsided the only strong opinion he could muster was to say, "it's a shame because it was such a good game." He could not even bring himself to chastise his players for fighting with other players and even the fans.

Detroit Pistons fans: While most of the crowd was horrified by what it witnessed, there were hundreds of fans who acted in a despicable manner. The fan who threw the beer at Artest was a jerk who endangered the safety of hundreds of people. The cowardly fans who poured drinks on the players, as the players stormed off the court, go home as diminished people.

ESPNEWS Analysts: John Saunders, Tim Legler and Stephen A. Smith bent over backwards to defend the players (Greg Anthony did not do so). They kept trying to excuse the players behavior by asking the audience, "how would you feel if someone threw beer at you?" They never brought up different ways to avoid violence. Ours is not a vigilante society, but they failed to recognize that. Legler complained about the taunting from fans that players received on a nightly basis, as if that's an excuse for players to retaliate by striking fans with clenched fists.

NBA Commissioner David Stern: Mr. Stern, you reap what you sow. The NBA has permitted a culture of thuggery to permeate the league. What used to be a great league has now become a denizen of drugs, dopes, and diminishing talent. Video games, rap videos and other cultural sign posts that promote violence and glorify materialism have been embraced by the NBA.

CONCLUSION: There is much blame to go around in professional sports and among American fans who go to sporting events. Professional athletes make tens of millions of dollars while fans consider it a birthright to taunt and curse at athletes. The discourse has become dirty, raw and vulgar. The NFL's permissiveness and celebration of criminal-athletes is evidence by their glorification of loud mouths like Ray Lewis and Terrell Owens. That race to the bottom leads to disasters like the skit involving Owens and the "Desperate Housewives" actress, Nicolette Sheridan. Major League Baseball and the National Hockey League have been damaged by labor woes that turned off the average middle class ticket buyer.

Right now, there are Marines and soldiers dying in Afghanistan and Iraq. But, spoiled brats like Ron Artest claim to be too tired to be playing basketball and beg for time off. Artest sure wasn't too exhausted after 47 minutes of basketball to pummel a fan in the face. I loved the NBA of the 80's that showcased Dr. J, Magic, Bird, 'Nique and Jordan. The current state of the NBA is filled with mediocre players who are only as good as a bronze medal are one arrest away from another headline.

I have not watched an NBA game in several years and after tonight's debacle, I am perfectly glad to say that I know that I haven't missed a thing.

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3 Links to Video of the Pacers-Pistons fight: Daily Recycler, Juicee News Daily, & Wes Roth.



47% of Latino voters supported measure to limit benefits for illegal immigrants

Emboldened by the passage of an Arizona ballot measure that prohibits illegal immigrants from receiving public benefits, like-minded conservatives are stepping up their efforts for a similar initiative in California.

"It's clear there is public support for cutting off benefits to people here illegally,' said Mike Spence, president of the California Republican Assembly, a group pushing a similar proposal in California. "What happened in Arizona is definitely a benefit because it keeps the issue at the forefront.'

Despite the opposition of Arizona's political establishment, including business groups, churches and Republican and Democratic lawmakers, Proposition 200 prevailed 56 percent to 44 percent last week. Forty-seven percent of Latino voters supported the initiative, which requires proof of citizenship when seeking public benefits or registering to vote.

"We certainly think it's going to have an effect, not just in California, but in other states where they're dealing with large increases in illegal immigration,' said Ira Mehlman, spokesman for the Federation for American Immigration Reform, which spent about $400,000 to qualify and get the Arizona initiative passed.

"This serves as a model for what can be done around the country,' Mehlman said. "If government isn't going to be responsive to concerns about illegal immigration, then this is a way of going over their heads.'

San Bernardino County Sun: Efforts against illegal immigrants rise


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