Crazy, crazy stuff. After catching the game on Friday, and the highlights all weekend long...I still can't believe it. I'll preface this by saying I'm not a fan of the Pacers, nor Jermaine O'Neal, Ron Artest, or Stephen Jackson. That said, although I think their actions were quite inappropriate, and they did deserve suspensions (although the entire season for Artest might have been a bit steep)...a few things are being lost in this whole incident. First off:
Not overly impressed with the fans in Detroit though either. I didn't see how it began but one, stay off the floor; two, don't dump all your **** on the players as they leave the floor. Utterly classless, no matter how mad you may be. If indeed the players end up faced with litigation, I think it only fair that they in turn sue the fans that dumped **** on them. You never know what's in there, it could be dangerous to the players. I'm saying it facetiously, but a lawyer could take that and run.
I couldn't agree more on this. The more times I see the replays of this the angrier I get at Detroits fans. Their actions at this game (taunting, throwing, and dumping stuff on players...getting involved physically in any way) was totally bush league stuff. Ridiculous. Just thinking about this, these are grown men, our ages, and they don't have more sense than this to throw their food and drink on other grown men. When you really think about what they are doing, how crazy is that? I know many will say the same things about the players, but for anyone who has either been involved in a fight, or in a tightly contested sports rivalry knows that there is a big difference between being highly emotional and involved in the actual game/fight, and from being a spectator that just happens to be in the same building. Those fans weren't even on the same side really (as the fights), and just happened to be by the tunnel where they escorted the players out, and they dump a bunch of crap on them. Totally classless. And also, for any of the fans that came out on the floor to confront the players, as far as I'm concerned, they got what they deserved. Once you come down there, you're fair game I think. I don't know what that one fan who came down to "step up" to Artest after the initial melee thought he was going to do. That guy deserved a punch in the chops as far as I'm concerned.
Also forgotten in all of this...although the Pacers going in the stands is not right, none of this would have happened if "Big" Ben Wallace wouldn't have over reacted to a fairly harmless foul in a game in which they were getting their asses kicked anyways. If he wouldn't have shoved Ron (who did walk away, surprisingly by the way), none of this would have ever happened. He gets six games, while the Pacers basically lose their season. His action was much less severe than what the Indiana players did, but it did spring the whole thing.
Like I said, I'm not a Pacers fan at all, quite the opposite actually...but to me the Detroit fans are just as much to blame in this whole thing. I've heard a lot of people place blame on the players solely, which is a bit unfair. Yes, they are overpaid millionaires, but that really has nothing to do with this. I just know from past experience, if you are in a game like this, heated rivarly, and put on top of it that you just had an (almost) fight...if someone threw a beer in my face, I don't know that I would have reacted any differently. On a side note, I'm pretty sure Ron Ron went after the wrong person in the stands, which is too bad I guess too. To be honest, the more you watch the "drink throwing" replay, keep an eye on the woman in the Chauncey Billups jersey. I am about 90% certain she is the one who hit him with the drink. Her hand is extended in a "post throw" position, and she also has a sort of "that's right" attitude look on her face when you first see Artest get up from scorer's table. Either way, I'm pretty sure he went after the wrong person. Funny to see all the fans in front of that guy part like the red sea once they saw Artest coming.
Anyways, this got way longer than it needed to be, but it has just started to bother me the way so many people aren't disgusted with the Detroit fans' behavior. Another example was when the melee was going on in the stands and a Pacers' player (Freddie Jones, No. 20) was up there trying to break things up, never threw a single punch, and wasn't suspended as far as I know was attacked from behind by another Detroit fan. Ridiculous. I sure hope that the fans found responsible are punished in some way as well. Definitely a terrible act overall by fans, players, and security. Seeing the images of a father consoling his two boys (with tears in their eyes) after this went on, really upset me as well. All these grown men (and maybe some women as far as throwing things) acting like 7 year olds fighting at recess. Ridiculous.