Writers react to brawl, suspensions
In the words of New York Daily news columnist Mike Lupica, "This was the defining moment of David Stern's long career as NBA commissioner."
This was the punishment Stern handed down in wake of the brawl at the end of Friday night's game between the Detroit Pistons and the Indiana Pacers. In suspending Ron Artest, Stephen Jackson, Jermaine O'Neal, Ben Wallace and others involved in the brawl, the commissioner did what was necessary for the good of the game -- or so say many of the nation's top sports columnists.The suspensions, especially Artest's, were harsh but warranted, said some. Others called it an ugly depiction of a society in which the fans, specifically Indiana's season ticket holders, are the ones who ultimately will pay. And while there are ways to try to fix the problem, it boils down to a lack of respect in today's sports world, according to Detroit Free Press columnist Mitch Albom. Check out excerpts from around the country as the NBA world reacts to one of its ugliest moments in league history.
J.A. Adande, The L.A. Times
"The severity of punishments delivered to Ron Artest (out for the rest of the season), Stephen Jackson (30 games) and Jermaine O'Neal (25 games) for their behavior in the brawl near the end of their game at Detroit on Friday night is Stern's way of persuading the ticket-buying masses to come back to a sport that has fallen out of favor.
John Cazano, The Oregonian
"Is the league office less guilty than Artest? Are the game officials less culpable than, say, Reggie Miller, who received a one-game suspension? How about those unruly fans? And what about the security staff in Detroit?
Ailene Voisin, Sacramento Bee
Lacy J. Banks, Chicago Sun-Times
"It makes me shiver with both shame and sympathy to think the basketball world could be seeing the beginning of the end of Artest, one of the scariest friends I've ever had.
Mike Lupica, NY Daily News
Bill Conlin, Philadelphia Daily News
"Some actually have tried to provide the lamentably dysfunctional Ron Artest with some wiggle room. The guy should be in a straitjacket with the laces tied in double knots. But in some opinions, the Pacers' star was just a guy who went way out of his way to declare peace - after laying a hard foul on Ben Wallace that triggered the sickening chain of violence. Ron was just passively lying on the scorer's table while order was restored. Permit me to confess that in the two-plus decades I covered college basketball on a regular basis, I never saw a player lie down on the scorer's table with or without a riot raging around him. ...
Mitch Albom, Detroit Free Press
"And so this morning, like a boxer standing before the mirror after his handlers have gone home, we examine our face to see how badly we are bruised. Black eyes everywhere. On the athletes, on the fans, on the sport and, yes, on our city. There were extra security guards at the Palace of Auburn Hills on Sunday night, but they were as superfluous as an umbrella after a rainstorm. This deed is done. This stain is in the fabric. Players have been suspended for chunks of the season, one for the entire season, and police are investigating everything and everyone. You can rail all you want about "who started what," but in the end, it's all about what people remember. And they will remember this: "Malice at Palace." "Basket-Brawl." "Friday Night Fights." ...
Michael Wilbon, Washington Post
"Ron Artest wanted some time off to promote his new CD, to try to help his girl group go platinum, and now he's got it. Artest has the month he had asked for, the month after that, the month after that and every month for the rest of this season. For charging into the stands in Detroit on Friday night and turning what could have been only an on-court scuffle into a riot, Artest was hit with a rest-of-the-season suspension by NBA Commissioner David Stern that is not only just but necessary.
Bob Ryan, Boston Globe
"David Stern now has spoken, and he has spoken with authority. For escalating a bad incident into a textbook riot by entering the stands in pursuit of a fan, Indiana Pacers forward Ron Artest has been suspended for the remainder of the season. Indiana guard Stephen Jackson has been suspended for 30 games. Indiana forward/center Jermaine O'Neal has been suspended for 25 games. Indiana guard Anthony Johnson has been suspended for five games. And Detroit Pistons forward/center Ben Wallace has been suspended for six games. A number of players on both sides have been suspended for one game after violating the league's prohibition on leaving the bench when a fight commences.
Stephen A. Smith, Philadelphia Inquirer
"With his league imperiled by the most disgraceful incident in its history, NBA commissioner David Stern stepped up last night and swung his proverbial hammer in vicious but appropriate fashion, pausing only long enough to punctuate each punishment, mercilessly. ... Ron Artest - suspended for the season. Stephen Jackson - suspended for 30 games. Jermaine O'Neal - suspended for 25 games. And that was just the beginning.
Bob Kravitz, Indianapolis Star
Barbara Barker, Newsday
"David Stern did what he had to do yesterday. He handed down the toughest suspensions in the history of the NBA for one of the ugliest moments in the history of the league.
Bruce Jenkins, San Francisco Chronicle
"At a time when Ron Artest and his Indiana teammates needed radical and historic punishment for Friday night's riot in Detroit, David Stern produced exactly that in one of his finest moments as NBA commissioner. Now he needs to step back, ignore the hysteria over preventative measures and do nothing beyond the obvious upgrades in arena security.
Peter Schmuck, Baltimore Sun
"In short, the NBA did what it had to do, but in a world where actions have consequences that are both intended and unintended, the suspensions have also served to punish a large group of people who had absolutely nothing to do with what happened at The Palace at Auburn Hills.
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