By now I am sure most have you have seen the disgusting footage of what happened between the Indiana Pacers and the Detroit Pistons this past week. I have to admit that I found it kind of fun to watch, but you knew some heavy punishments were coming. Well, now the suspensions are being handed down.
- A Detroit television station (W-D-I-V) is reporting on its website that Pacers forward Ron Artest will be suspended for 30 games while teammates Jermaine O’Neal and Stephen Jackson will sit out 20 games apiece. The station also says Pistons center Ben Wallace will serve a five-game suspension.
While this was one of the ugliest moments in NBA history, I really think maybe this is a little harsh all things considered. I think Ben Wallace’s suspension is a little heavy for a guy who got into a small fight with another NBA player. I don’t think a little push on Artest after a hard foul in the closing seconds of the game was worthy of a full five games. I feel like this is a night in jail for running a stop sign. I guess it has been extended due to the horrible events that ensued after that push.
I am not sure that is fair either. On October 27th, the Washington Wizards’ Brendan Hayward was suspended for 3 games for throwing punches against the Bulls. In that same altercation, Larry Hughes was suspended for 1 game for starting the fight with a head butt on Kirk Hinrich. Ben Wallace pushed a guy and got 5 games due to the reaction of the fans.
In terms of the Pacers suspensions, I think that Artest deserves every bit of his suspension. He got hit with a cup of liquid and while that is unacceptable, I don’t think you can ever justify jumping into the stands. Fans need to be under control and they need to be reprimanded, but not by Ron Artest. As a result, this suspension is very important to set a precedent to other NBA players who might consider running into the stands any time in the future.
As for Jermaine O’Neal and Stephen Jackson, I understand the initial reaction of the NBA, but I think it is too harsh. Jackson needs to be suspended for entering the stands as well, but I don’t think we can judge him as harshly as he was attempting to help Ron Artest, a teammate, after Artest lost control. I think a 5 game suspension would have been acceptable in this case. 20 games, or almost 25% of an NBA season seems very long.
Jermaine O’Neal who landed a huge right cross on a Pistons fan was also given 20 games, but I think this is especially unfair because the fan was on the court. It appeared to me that O’Neal was on his way toward the locker room or at least the Pacers bench when a fan came up to him. There is no excuse for a fan to ever be close to, let alone on the court of an NBA game. I won’t go as far as to say there was nothing else that O’Neal could have done in that situation, but I think we should look at the scenario and the fact that arena security was basically non-existent before handing his suspension down. Again, I think 20 games is too long. I think that there is an argument that O’Neal was defending himself to an extent as the fan was on the court.
I am sure there will be some appeals to these suspensions and I realize that the players need to change, but I think the real issue here is that fans became overly involved in the game. Throwing a cup at an opposing player shouldn’t ever happen with appropriate arena security. Fans can’t ever be in a situation where they are on the court. I don’t know what changes the NBA needs to make, but it can’t begin and end with suspending these players.
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