Sunday , Nov , 28 , 2004 C.Y. Ellis

NBA Trash Talk: Volume III

Hi, all. What a week it’s been. The Sonics continued their impressive run, Hubie stepped down and several squads debuted new alternate uniforms. Who am I kidding? Fight, fight, fight, fight, fight. It would take little short of another Michael Jordan comeback to divert the focus from what has now wittily been termed the Malice at the Palace. Hell, Michael Jackson could have signed with the Clippers and it would have been second-string news. I hope David Stern recognises how ironic it is that this whole affair has gained the NBA hundreds of extra hours of television time over the last seven days. In a culture where all publicity is good publicity, I imagine that considerably more fans than usual have tuned in to catch a basketball game this week.

<b>NBA Trash Talk</b>: <I>Volume III</I>“/>So, what next? Well, for now we await news from the league on whether they’ll be reducing the suspensions. For those of you unaware, the NBA players’ union recently filed an appeal requesting that the suspensions of Artest, O’Neal and Jackson be reduced, suggesting that thirty-five games would be more appropriate for Ron. However, under the collective bargaining agreement, David Stern is given the final word on all on-court disciplinary penalties, and as such they’re effectively appealing to him. Will he modify the punishments? Well, most would say that it’s unlikely that he’d basically go against his own word, but Dave could come out the big winner if he did. It would show that he’s committed to checking his players when they step out of line (which the Indiana Three definitely did, regardless of the circumstances), but also that he’s not the cold, unfeeling commish who earned the nickname <I>The Sternbot</I>. That said, I think D.S. will simply have his people run the appeal papers through the shredder; I imagine he’d perceive any flexibility on such issues as weakness. After all, it’s a world of ones and zeroes for Stern and other robots – there are no grey areas.<BR><BR>So, with a little extra free time on his hands (I imagine he’s not entirely displeased with that since he has recently entertained thoughts of retiring), it looks as if Ron’s off-court antics will be a major source of entertainment over the coming year. Already he’s up to his old tricks, using his first major television interview since the incident to promote the very album that recently had him in Coach Carlisle’s bad books. I don’t think I’ve seen a player this detached from the real world since Rodman was taken up by the mothership, an appropriate parallel since Ron “The Rottweiler” is currently donning the #91 jersey in The Worm’s honour. <BR><BR>There’s not a fan on the planet who hasn’t formed their own opinion on the subject, and your responses exhibit the variety of feelings out there. Let’s dip into the mailbag: <BR><BR><I>Buying a ticket to attend a game doesn’t give the fans the right to embarrass us in front of our children & the world. This is not reality TV, where profanity is mandatory for the highest ratings. Uncivilized fans should be barred from attending any future NBA games. Money should not be the factor for an admission to a game, but civility is, this goes for the players as well. <BR><BR>Posted by Albert M. Albagli on 11.21.2004</I><BR><BR>I agree entirely. So many spectators feel that simply buying their ticket gives them carte blanche for all manner of anti-social behaviour. I’m as involved a fan as any (if I’m not standing or shouting, it means that it’s half-time), but I’d never consider it acceptable to throw anything on the floor. Similarly, I’d never curse at an event where children are likely to be present. Fans who have shown themselves to be incapable of acting with basic decorum should be banned from attending the games, as football (“soccer” to my American friends) hooligans are barred from matches throughout England and Europe. <BR><BR><I>Someone should tell these overgrown, overpaid boys how to be a man. Take the high road and don’t let the adrenaline make you into a jerk. It’s that simple. There is no excuse to jump into the stands to fight. Now Artest can promote his CD and not worry about basketball. The game needs fewer Artests and more Lindsey Hunters!! <BR><BR>Posted by Helen Jasmine on 11.21.2004</I> <BR><BR>This is an important point. It’s often been said that what Artest, Jackson and O’Neal were doing was simply standing up for themselves and their team-mates. In short, they were seen as doing the manly thing by whooping some spectators’ behinds. Wouldn’t a bigger man have simply shrugged it off though? I’d certainly think more of a player who had the restraint and composure to ignore such idiotic fans, particularly when they’re prone to losing their temper, as Ron is. However, I’m not sure the league needs any more Lindsey Hunters. In fact, I’m sure we’d find a way to cope without the one we already have. <BR><BR><I>A player is still a human being and deserves the right to be treated with respect and to defend himself. If they did something against the law throw the book at them. If they are not charged for a crime then punishing them severely is unwarranted. You can bet there would be less of a commotion if they were white hockey players and this happened at a hockey match. <BR><BR>Posted by ben johnson on 11.21.2004</I><BR><BR>Were they really defending themselves though? Do you think Ron seriously felt his safety compromised by a plastic cup? There was no self-defence involved whatsoever. Also, you forget that NBA players are not judged as normal folk. The very nature of their job means that they are, whether they like it or not, prominent characters and required to conduct themselves in a certain manner. Do you really think that an actual crime needs to be committed before someone incurs severe penalties? A season or so ago, Ron offered his middle fingers to a section of fans and was heavily fined. Since nothing illegal occurred, would you argue that he should not have been punished? I doubt it. Whether there was a crime or not that night, certain players blatantly disregarded the league’s written and unwritten codes of conduct and deserved to be punished heavily for it. <BR><BR>I also feel that your implication of determining racial factors is misguided. These penalties were, as I have said, concocted and distributed by David Stern, a man who has openly stated that one of his main aims as he started the job was to improve the public image of black players in the NBA. He has never shown himself to be anything but a dedicated commissioner free of racial bias. The fact that the brawl was characterised by images of three black men fighting a largely white crowd may have inspired more media interest, although I’m yet to see, hear or read any indication that race is perceived to be a major theme of this affair. <BR><BR>Now on to more pressing matters: uniforms. It can’t have escaped your attention that five teams (Dallas, New Orleans, Seattle, Atlanta and Golden State) have introduced new alternate uniforms over the past several weeks. What you also may have noticed is that three of the above teams (Seattle, New Orleans, Atlanta) opted for virtually the same shade of gold, apparently coincidentally. The Warriors broke out a new colour scheme, rocking a rich orange uniform for their triple-overtime contest against the Hornets. The Mavericks had also already suited up in fresh threads four days earlier, designed by P. Diddy, who was invited to do so by his buddy, Mark Cuban. <BR><BR>I’m not sure what there is to be said for Hubie’s departure, except for that I doubt very much that there’s any substance to the conspiracy theory that West forced him out. Although he has expressed a wish to keep the details of his poor health private, it’s clear that it must be severe if it has coerced him into leaving a job which meant so much to him. Enjoy your retirement and get well soon, Hubie. <BR><BR>So, until next week, keep your eye on the Pacers. Fred Jones and the rest of the pine posse are playing as if they have a point to prove, running and hustling like an untamed ABA squad from back in the day. As the Italians say, “A mali estremi, estremi rimedi” (desperate times call for desperate measures). For the moment, Indiana’s desperation is absolute, so we may just be treated to the “cornered animal” style of play that makes for great watching. Take it easy now, <BR><BR>Chuck. </p>