Sunday, November 21, 2004

Finally, A Chance to Make the NBA Change

In the late sixties I was introduced to the NBA. The Boston Celtics were regular champions and it was relatively easy to get tickets. My dad often watched "The NBA On NBC," and the game was beginning to take root in the American consciousness as the marketing of Wilt Chamberlain, Bill Russell and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar bore fruit.

In the early 1980s, my friend Ron had season tickets at Boston Garden, and he generously took me to games throughout the season. This was the Larry Bird era and tickets were almost impossible to come by.

I stopped following the NBA during the Michael Jordan era when the commissioner's office became an apology machine for the criminals the NBA was trying to market as heroes. This new breed of man bore no resemblance to Abdul-Jabbar or Russell , or Bird or Magic Johnson.

Charles Barkley, the Republican thug and Michael Jordan, the gambling thug (who probably also votes Republican) were just too much for my iron-clad stomach to embrace. I mean, I can take a lot of crap from superstars, but these two and the rest of their new breed of star baskeball players brought basketball to depths never imagined even by those who despise professional sports.

Today's NBA star subscribes to Charles Barkley's unAmerican position that "Professional athletes should not be role models." The not-so-erudite Barkley goes on (unfortunately) to say: "Hell, I know drug dealers who can dunk. Can drug dealers be role models too?" and "I am not a role model. I am paid to wreak havoc on the basketball court. Parents should be role models. Just because I dunk a basketball doesn't mean I should raise your kids."

Mr. Barkley and the rest of your NBA scum, you are correct there: we do not want you to raise our children. But you ARE a role model.

Being a role model is NOT elective. You are paid gazillions of dollars to be in the public eye and that king's ransom of a salary you receive requires that you assume the responsibility of being an appropriate role model for all children. You may shirk that responsibility with some claim that you do not desire to be a role model, but you are.

Now, the rest of the scum for whom Jordan and Barkley have paved the self-serving road of self-righteousness have brought us the debacle at The Palace in Auburn Hills.

So . . . what happened in the NBA this weekend? One jackass named Ron Artest, an idiot with a long history of violent and inappropriate behavior, committed a flagrant, violent, and unnecessary foul against another jackass named Ben Wallace.

Wallace then shoved Artest, the benches cleared, a brawl ensued, fans threw stuff, the players ran into the stands to beat-up fans, there was mayhem, and everyone is shocked. Shocked, I tell you, just shocked!

Now come Stephen Jackson and Jermaine O'Neal. These guys thought it was a good idea to attack fans in the stand. Their punishment? 30 and 25 game suspensions (respectively).

I like hockey's 'third-man-in' rule which states that if two jackasses are fighting and a third jackass jumps in, the third jackass is punished specifically for being the third jackass in.

How does this translate for Jackson and O'Neal? Third man in? Into what? THE STANDS!!!! These professional athletes went into the stands and beat-up customers. If Artest and Wallace want to beat the crap out of each other, so be it. None of them have the right to go into the stands. Ever.

If the NBA can't keep its talent safe on the court, then those athletes should work for someone else, or sue their employer, but they should not go into the stands after the fans.

Should Jackson and O'Neal be criminally prosecuted for assault and battery? Yes, but what's the point? If you send them to prison you will be putting them with their element where they are most comfortable and worshipped as heroes. What is the punishment? One thing only: life-long ban from the NBA. If you go into the stands you are banned for life.

Are the fans culpable here? Sure. They should not have been throwing cups of beer at the players. Can this be addressed? Yes! The owners of the team and the arena are responsible. This is handled successfully in soccer matches all over the world: if your fans endanger the players, the next game at which you host that opponent, the teams play in an empty arena. That's right! No ticket money for you, no concession profits for you, the broadcast companies will pull out, and the team owners lose a fortune until they get their fans under control. It's a good punishment for fans and owners.

Is television culpable here? Television was thrilled to air the mayhem in Detroit, and a TV station in Michigan actually interrupted broadcasting to beam live images of the riot. So, it is unlikely that ESPN would be interested in broadcasting a game without fans. If there are no fans there might be no excitement!

What to do? Nothing? Do we do nothing? Do we let another group of gazillionaires break the law, and trample on what little social and societal structure remains in these days of corporate whoredom?

When you have an industry of over-paid jackasses with no sense of society, their role in society, social grace, or simple decency, this is the inevitable result. And it is not as if a few bad apples are ruining it for the majority; the NBA employs an entire league of jackasses, from the commissioner's office, to the coaching staffs, and the talent. This is the second generation of NBA jackasses.

So were do we begin? What discussion needs to take place?

Who has responsibility here? The league will punish the perps. The police will arrest some people. Artest might even go to jail for assaulting fans. David Stern will be incredulous about the unacceptable events at the game. Psychologists will discuss the need for young men made instantly wealthy to be provided with guidance. Someone might even discuss the fraud that is the NBA's use of our nation's colleges as their farm system. But none of these actions or discussions will make a difference, because it is about money.

As long as ESPN gets a boatload of money from sponsors, they will happily broadcast any basketball game the NBA stages. As long as ESPN pays a boatload of money to the NBA for broadcast rights, the league will change nothing. As long as the league and the teams pay jackasses and criminals to perform like jackasses and criminals on television the players will not change.

As long as YOU buy the products of the company's that sponsor the NBA, they will have plenty of money to pay ESPN who pays the NBA who pays Ron Artest and encourages him to bring entertainment to America's televisions.

Ultimately, YOU are responsible for what is on television by which products you buy for your home.

If you object to what takes place in the NBA, then you should take action.

Write the NBA and tell them to enact a lifetime ban for any player that enters the stands. No excuses, no amnesty, you're gone.

Choose one NBA sponsor, and stop purchasing their products. Then write them a letter saying you plan to boycott them until they pull their advertising from the NBA. Start with Nike, they make crap products anyhow. Tell them that you object to them financing the criminal lifestyle promoted by the NBA.

I know, professional sports apologists (maybe you are one of them) will say it doesn't matter -- consumers can do nothing. These are generally people born into the Reagan era who do not know that America was filled with activism in the 20th century. They do not know that before Nintendo existed, you could take a political stand outside a voting booth. Ignore those people, these apologists. They have no experience being a part of the solution.

Take action. Become an American with some balls!

Now write to NBC and ESPN and tell them you plan to cease watching the NBA broadcasts.

The NHL and NFL both changed marketing strategies to gain larger market shares, the NBA can change, too. You can help them by taking action!

Nothing short of a lifetime ban for athletes who go into the stands will make a difference here.

NBA Commissioner's Statement
POSTED: 7:49 pm EST November 20, 2004

The following is a statement issued Saturday from NBA Commissioner David Stern concerning the fight involving players and fans at the Pistons-Pacers game Friday night.

"The events at last night's game were shocking, repulsive and inexcusable -- a humiliation for everyone associated with the NBA. This demonstrates why our players must not enter the stands whatever the provocation or poisonous behavior of people attending the games. Our investigation is ongoing and I expect it to be completed by tomorrow evening. The NBA has taken the following actions, effective immediately:

Indiana players Ron Artest, Stephen Jackson and Jermaine O'Neal are suspended indefinitely, the length to be determined upon completion of the investigation.

Detroit player Ben Wallace is suspended indefinitely, the length to be determined upon completion of the investigation.

Review of rules and procedures relating to altercations and security has been undertaken so that fans can continue to attend our games unthreatened by events such as the ones that occurred last night."

The video

Here's a parcel of bullcrap from Artest (probably written by his agents)

No Mercy: Artest Gets Season Suspension For Brawl, Union Vows To Challenge Punishment

Newsday article that discusses the Union's plan to appeal the action taken against Artest

A voice from Detroit

Line was crossed in Auburn Hills, by Jim Cleamons

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