GH And Petey's Timberwolves Blog

Monday, November 22, 2004

Everybody's Guilty!

Alright, I've got to give you a warning right off the bat. If you need to take a crap, you should do it now. I haven't blogged in a while, and I've got a lot to say. I'll try to be rather brief, but I'm warning you now that this might be a few pages short of a PhD dissertation. I've been busy lately and haven't had a chance to blog. This is part of what happens when you're a grad student. Also, since Petey blogs so infrequently these days(as I was in the course of writing this, he did post again, so be sure to check it out), I wanted to leave it at the top so that everyone else got a chance to read it. For those of you who don't want to read the whole thing, here are the topics I plan to cover:

  1. The Twolves vs. Sonics game on Tuesday that Petey and I will be attending
  2. KG's injury
  3. The Pacers/Pistons brawl
Twolves vs. Sonics

Tuesday night, the Twolves will be playing the Sonics and Petey and I will be in the second row. Petey got these tickets a couple months ago at a cheap price at a silent auction. At the time, it looked like it would just be a chance to see the Wolves up close and personal against a team that just wasn't very good. However, with the Sonics 9-2 start, the games promises to be more interesting. Normally, when I go to a Wolves game (or any sporting event), I'm one of those people who buys the cheapest ticket possible and then tries to sneak up to better territory. Usually, I'll spend the first quarter of the game sitting at (or very near) to my assigned seat. I'll pay attention to the game, but during breaks and whistles, I'll spend my time scouting the good seats and planning to move up later. It's a plan that rarely fails, although on occasion I'm forced to get up and move to a different seat several times during the game due to the people who actually belong in those seats showing up.

Although I'm looking forward to the game quite a bit, it will be a little bittersweet for me as it will be one of the last things I get to do with Pete before he leaves me for California forever. If you live in the Twin cities (or Seattle) area, look for us. I'll be the fairly big guy with cool long sideburns, a goatee and dark curly hair wearing a Timberwolves sweatshirt. Pete will be right along side me. You wouldn't say we look exactly alike, but a lot of people confuse us for brothers. He's also got very dark hair (straighter though) and will be clean shaven and slightly smaller that I am.

KG's Injury

Watching the riot at the Palace of Auburn Hills the other night, I thought I couldn't imagine seeing anything worse. Then, the next night, KG goes up for a dunk, gets fouled, and comes down hard. After he hits the ground, you can hear him let out a loud scream. I've seen KG get injured quite a few times, but never like this. Normally, he'll slightly twist his ankle (or something) and go down, be slow to get up, but then walk around for a while and be fine. When I saw this happen, however, I knew it was different. You could just tell by looking at him that he was in tremendous pain. I feared that it would be a fairly long injury--possibly even season-ending.

Garnett walked around for a while, but then eventually got to the free throw line and took his shots. He stayed in for a little while, and even made another basket before it was obvious he was in too much pain to continue. He went back into the locker room a few minutes before half-time and I though that would be last we'd see of him that night.

Then, he came back at the beginning of the third quarter, and I breathed a sigh of relief. He played the rest of the game (and played it quite well) although it was obvious he was bothered by his shoulder. Every once in a while, you'd see him grimace after taking a shot, and during dead balls, his right arm would always be hanging at his side, while he gestured with his left.

The word came through that it was just a contusion. I had my doubts about this at first, but then found out that they took x-rays and that was all the x-rays showed. Although I was relieved to see him come back and play well, I had my concerns about whether or not he should actually be playing. I understand that whole mentality of playing through injury. I once tore my ACL the second game of our IM basketball season and then played the rest of the season on it. Eventually of course, I injured it even worse and ended up having to have two surgeries to get it fixed. I've also had to listen to John Madden's vomit about how great it is that Brett Favre plays through injuries that he just shouldn't be playing through.

There's a certain amount of pride that you need to swallow at some point. Even though you think you can play through the pain, you shouldn't. You could injure yourself much worse and if you're not playing at 100%, you might actually be hurting the team. Of course, in KG's case, he could play at about 60% and still be contributing.

Pistons/Pacers brawl

This whole situation is so complex, and there's so much to analyze, it's difficult to even know where to start.

I guess I'll just start by saying that while I was watching the whole thing unfold live, I have to admit that I sort of enjoyed it. I'm not sure why I enjoyed it, probably because I'm at least a little bit sadistic. At the same time though, I felt kind of bad about enjoying it, and I seemed to enjoy it every time I saw a replay.

Next, I'd like to take a look at the different people involved and how they could have prevented this thing in chronological order:

Ron Artest--The whole thing started when he fouled Ben Wallace under the hoop. After seeing the foul, I have to say, it just wasn't that hard of a foul--especially by Artest standards. Still, you're up by 15 points with 45 seconds to go. If you let him score, you'll get the ball and run out the shot clock, the Pistons get it back and they you get it again and run out the clock. The Pistons weren't even intentionally fouling at that point, so they had already given up. Just let him go by and this whole thing never happens.

Ben Wallace--He WAY overreacted to the foul. It just wasn't that bad.

Some guy who hadn't yet finished his beer--The whole thing looked like it was coming to a close when the guy dumped a beer on Ron Artest. It was a completely unprovoked and immature thing to do.

Ron Artest (again)--It's understandable to be upset if some random guy throws a beer at you. It's hard to imagine how I would react if I were sitting in a bar and somebody came and dumped a beer over my head. I imagine most of us would be pretty pissed off. Still, had he sat back and chilled for a second before running into the stands and attacking random fans (evidence seems to point to the fact that he attacked the wrong guy--more on this later) the whole thing would not have happened.

Stephen Jackson--So what Ron Artest did was bad, but what he did was arguably worse. He went into the stands and just started throwing punches. He didn't go up there to help Artest or try and diffuse the situation, he just started hitting people. Had he not done this, it's possible that they could have pulled Artest out of the stands and it would have ended at that. It would have been bad, but not as bad as it was.

Everybody else--At the point that Jackson started punching people, the situation had escalated out of control. There was no stopping it at that point. However, many people there just started throwing things and punching people with no provocation whatsoever. All of these people added to the chaos and are guilty for at least part of it. It doesn't matter whether they threw a punch or just dumped popcorn over Jermaine O'neal's head as he left. A lot of people just figured they wouldn't be held accountable for their actions and acted inappropriately.

The point I'm trying to make is that everybody's guilty. There was a lot of talk about self-defense, but the truth is that hardly anybody there was acting in self-defense. I saw some people trying to hold back Artest, but then other people started hitting him and throwing beer on him. There's just no justification for that. I blame the fans and the players.

While the league's suspensions are harsh, I find them quite just. If anything, I think Stephen Jackson got off too easily. I've seen Stern's vengeance brought down on the Wolves before for the whole Joe Smith fiasco (for which we're still paying) and I'd say that this is no worse a punishment than that. In doing this, he's set a precedent for players, which will make them at least have to think a little before running into the stands.

But while he's already set a precedent for the players, he needs to set one for the fans as well. When you're sitting there anonymously in the stands, it almost seems like they won't be able to do anything to you. However, Stern needs to dish out punishment to the fans as well so that they don't feel they can get away with anything. If Ron Artest is suspended for the season, I think that Stern should "suspend" any fans involved in violence for the season as well. And by suspend, I mean ban from NBA stadiums/revoke their season tickets (if applicable). It might be difficult to enforce, but he at least needs to make a mandate. This will help keep fans from succumbing to the mob mentality and help hold them accountable for their actions.

Through all this, there's one sort of weird thing that nobody has addressed which is "Why the hell was Ron Artest lying down on the scorer's table?"

My guess would be this. Ben Wallace, one of the biggest and strongest players in the NBA wanted to beat the crap out of Artest. Artest felt no remorse about fouling him, and was probably not even that angry about being smacked in the face. I think he wanted to show everybody how unafraid he was of Big Ben. To do this, he decided to lay down and put himself in a very vulnerable position, so that everybody could see how unafraid he was.

Seeing this act of smug arrogance, some fan got fed up with Artest and decided it would be a good idea to dump beer on him. Now let's face it, this guy had to be dumb. I mean, he's lucky Artest didn't pull a piece out of his shorts a pop a cap in his ass right there. Artest is crazy, and likely to do anything. You can't throw a beer at him and not expect a retaliation.

At the same time, how dumb is Artest to go after him. Yes, he's a world class athlete in prime physical condition, but when he does into the stands, he basically challenging the Detroit fans to a 20,000-on-1 fight. Once a few people grabbed him and held him back, he was completely defenseless. Not even Artest can overcome those odds.

Furthermore, it seems unlikely that Artest even knew who threw the beer at him, and that he was probably beating the wrong guy. According to the guy he was beating, he wasn't the one who did it and Artest kept asking him "Did you do it?" while he was trying to hit him. Secondly, the guy he attacked was holding a beverage at the time. This means that if he threw one at Artest, he either had two beverages in his hand with 45 seconds left in the game, or he found one somewhere else. Thus, I'm guessing he got the wrong guy.

So, did I cover everything? Hell no. But it'll have to do for now. There will always be more to analyze, and of course, there will be more to say once the NBA decides to do about the fans.