GH And Petey's Timberwolves Blog

Monday, November 22, 2004

Stern Lowers the BOOM

Okay, so everyone knows already (and I'm probably even a little late posting this) but NBA Commissioner David Stern passed out the punishments:

73 games for Ron Artest
30 games for Stephen Jackson
25 games for Jermaine O'Neal
6 games for Ben Wallace
5 games for Avery Johnson
1 game each for Reggie Miller, Chauncey Billups, Elden Campbell, and Derrick Coleman

Everyone under the sun has an opinion about the severity of punishments for all of the players involved. Here are four of mine:

1). Stephen Jackson probably should get more. Remember that he was the first to throw a punch (Artest was possibly *trying* to wind up and hit the fan that supposedly threw the beer at him but was being restrained, also Ben Wallace did not punch Ron Artest -- it was a fairly nasty shove). Frankly, I was more impressed with how quickly he was able to follow Artest 10 rows up into the stands to start wailing on people. Quickest first step I've ever seen. He not only started the punching but started swinging at anything and everyone.

2). The suspension of Ben Wallace was about right. Yes the 'riot' followed his initial shove to Artest's face (after Artest's hard and uncalled for foul). However, I've seen dozens of worse incidents involving lesser fouls (in more critical situations). Frankly, these sorts of events happen very frequently in every sport. To think that Wallace shoving Artest had much bearing on actually causing the resulting riot is probably an instance of faulty cause and effect thinking. Sure, if it hadn't happened then the riot probably wouldn't have occured.

3). Jermaine O'Neal will get the biggest street cred boost of anyone involved. I mean, who could miss his *sick* punch on the court that just dropped that fat guy like a ton of bricks. Sure Artest is crazy and apparently Stephen Jackson is also out of his mind, but nobody was actually able to land a punch even close to O'Neal's. I will never talk about Jermaine being soft again.

4). Do these punishments give fans the green light to continue to heap abuse (or become even more violent) towards players, knowing that players will be even less likely to retaliate due to such heft suspensions? Ummmm, in a word, no. Security needs to be tightened at games regardless and there should be much more careful monitoring of people who have clearly had quite a bit to drink. However, I really don't think that drunk fans are thinking logically in these situations to begin with. I doubt any deterent to player retaliation even factors in to a decision of whether or not one should throw a beer/cup/chair/garbage at a player on onto the court. Look, in the case at hand there is already a very good reason not to throw *anything* at Ron Artest: the dude's crazy and is liable to find a TV camera and kill you with it. Any fan that picks a fight with him is truly asking for whatever he gets.

5) Yes, Ron Artest really does deserve 73 games and not just for his actions on Friday. The guys has literally been a liability for the NBA the last several years -- he's just not sane. He's not crazy like 'Sheed, he's violent crazy and it is just dangerous to have the guy around. Saying the guy is a thug isn't really even accurate at this point. Most of his actions and subsequent dialogue concerning them demonstrate that he doesn't have even a basic grasp of how his actions fit into the larger scheme of things. Hey, this could even be (as many others have offered up) the thing that helps him turn around his life. Of course, that would require him to sit down and carefully re-evaluate himself (has any basketball player actually done this??).

I think this was a very good showing by Stern. I've always felt that out of the three major US sports, he has retained the most control (for the good of the league). He knows that no matter how much he upsets the player's union, it is the fans that the NBA needs to survive (and Ron Artest ultimately needs to see him play and buy his CDs). He is making the statement that players will be severely punished for going after fans (even those who are out of control and probably deserve it).

The most positive outcome of this whole ordeal is that Artest can focus all of his energies on his R&B and Rap albums. He won't even have to ask his coach again for time off!