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Monday, November 22, 2004

Sports: An NBA Hypothetical 

Here's a "what-if" for NBA fans to chew on:

What if a Tim Duncan or Dirk Nowitzki had charged into the stands after getting hit by a full beverage on Friday night? Would the "ban Ron Artest for life" crowd advocate such draconian consequences toward either of them?

Ron Artest is a bad seed; I won't argue the contrary. He's been fined and suspeneded more times in the past few years than just about anyone in the NBA. He's selfish and represents much of what pro basketball's detractors find repugnant about today's NBA. But I don't think that what he did on Friday was the action of a "thug." It was a basic human reaction. He's just been involved in a hard foul with Ben Wallace, at the end of a rivalry game (quick aside: I saw one TV talking head label the original play a 'cheap shot" by Artest, thus removing any semblance of objectivity from said commentators reporting. Note to ESPN flunky: quit being the moral conscience of sports and stick to throwing out your lame catchphrases on Sportscenter) and his emotions are running high. Then he walks away and lets cooler hads prevail. For that much he should be commended. I'm sure I wasn't alone in thinking that the two were about to throw down right then and there.

It wasn't until some piece of crap fan launched a coke that Artest snapped. And before the "thug" comments start flying, let's ask ourselves: who among us have never snapped? It happens. And if it hasn't happened to you then I applaud your extraordinary skill of restraint, for you are indeed a unique individual. Yes, Artest is far from the model for class in pro sports, but any of a number of NBA stars could have easily done the same thing in the same situation, and for everyone that's using this incident to crusade against the likes of Artest, I simply ask that you attempt to view the situation with an open mind.

Back to the original question: What if Tim Duncan had been hit with a drink and subsequently bumrushed some pathetic lowlife fan? Well I would hope that any punishment doled out would be consistent from one player to the next, but I doubt that would be the case. Artest's sentence is harsh, but I'm okay with that, so long as it's fair. The next time this happens -- and believe me, as long as fans are permitted to behave like the fans in Detroit behaved, it will happen again -- I hope the NBA remembers Artest and hands down an equally firm decision.


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