Last night, the Detroit Pistons and Indiana Pacers were involved NBA’s most shameful moment in history. A bench clearing brawl followed Pacer Ron Artest’s hard foul of the Piston’s Ben Wallace. That was followed by Artest charging into that stands and attacking a fan. Artest was mad because someone threw a cup of beer at him.
Artest’s lack of self-control endangered him, and his teammates who went into the stands to protect him. When I was watching the replay on ESPN, I was wondering how Artest knew which person threw the beer. The thing was, he didn’t. ESPN’s reporter at the arena, Jim Gray, reported that the man Artest attacked was not the one that threw the beer. Artest’s teammate, Steve Jackson, then entered the stands and started throwing punches at fans.
The fans in Detroit were embarrasingly misbehaved. That doesn’t excuse Artest’s or Jackson’s behavior. ESPN thinks it does though. Tim Legler writes:
Artest will probably receive the brunt of the media condemnation from this situation because he’s a lightning rod for controversy and that’s not fair. It’s not fair because he’s not truly at fault for what happened…
In the paragraph before that, Legler said, “Once again, I’m not justifying the players’ actions.” OK, so after he doesn’t justify the players actions, he justifies the players actions by claiming it wasn’t Artest’s fault.
The “he made me do it” defense won’t fly. The fans responsible for attacking any Indiana Pacer should be held responsible for their actions. Artest is responsible for his actions. He was not defending himself when he went into the stands and attacked a man who did not throw anything at him. Steve Jackson was not defending himself when he followed Artest and punched another fan who had not attacked his teammate.
Sadly, this is what you get when you cross a few drunk people with some over-payed hot-headed thugs.
Update: The NBA has indefinitely suspended Indiana Pacers’ Ron Artest, Jermaine O’Neal and Stephen Jackson and Detroit Pistons player Ben Wallace. Indiana is going to be hurting with three of its stars out.