Saturday, November 20, 2004

Thoughts on Pistons/Pacers Brawl

For a hockey junkie who watches maybe five regular season Piston games before jumping on their playoff bandwagon, I had the "luck" of catching the end of last night's Pistons/Pacers game. With less than a minute left, the Pacers had an insurmountable 15-point lead and Ben Wallace took exception to a hard foul he took from Ron Artest as he went for a lay-up. Wallace, still emotional days after the death of his older brother, gave Artest a hard two-handed shove in the face, and a scrum between opposing players ensued. Artest fled the shoving match and mocked Wallace by laying on the scorer's table. The confrontation should have been over at this point, with players separated and tempers dying down. Unfortunately, a Pistons fan bothered by Artest's mocking pose threw a drink at Artest, hitting him square in the face. Artest went ballistic and stormed into the stands in search of the fan that threw the drink. Stephen Jackson and Jermaine O'Neal joined their teammate, and the trio took on about a dozen Pistons fans. At this point it was full-blown chaos, fights in the stands and on the court, and the game had to be cancelled. As the Pacers exited through the tunnel, they were showered with drinks and popcorn. Watching that brawl live was one of the more scarier things I have ever witnessed on live television. It was a disgrace to see the violence escalate from a relatively minor scuffle to a player-fan brawl. The Pacers should've never left the court to fight fans in the stands. It's an unwritten code of professional sports to never cross that boundary. Here's a list of times when we've seen player-fan confrontations in sports. Hockey's Worst Player-Fan Incident Like Matt mentioned in the previous article, during the UM/OSU game, an ABC announcer took a jab at hockey by implying that brawls such as the one at the Pistons game were commonplace in hockey and the NHL. To say that to a football audience who might not know the complete validity of the statement is misleading and typical of the US media's treatment of hockey. MLB has had far more player-fan incidents in its history than the NHL has had, so why didn't the smart ass ABC announcer take a pot shot at baseball? Well, because it's America's pastime and hockey isn't. Here's one of the most famous incidents of player-fan fights in NHL history. It was December 23, 1979, and the Boston Bruins beat the New York Rangers 4-3 in Madison Square Garden. The Bruins had just secured the win, and they left the bench to celebrate with their goaltender and teammates. Rangers goalie John Davidson initiated the brawl by accusing Bruin Al Secord of dirty play, specifically that he sucker-punched Ranger Ulf Nilsson. A scrum ensued with the Bruins defending their teammate, and frustrated Rangers fans threw objects at the Bruins players, ultimately injuring Stan Jonathan. Bruins Mike Milbury, Terry O'Reilly, Peter McNab, and Al Secord stormed the stands to get after the group of hostile fans. During the ten-minute brawl, Mike Milbury actually beat a fan with a shoe.


At 5/27/2005 08:56:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Artest was not mocking anyone. He was trying to stay out of trouble. The real culprit here was Wallace and his other brother. Wallace should have gotten a bigger suspension than he got. I am not saying Artest was right, but neither was Wallace or the Piston's fans. I am a Wings fan and I just hpe that Wings fans at the arena are not the same guys at the Piston's games.


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