Thursday, January 19, 2006


Last year, at the Palace at Auburn Hills, Ron Artest charged into the stands after a drunken fan threw beer in his face. After that, pretty much all hell broke loose. Stephen Jackson followed, punched someone who was not involved; fans broke onto the floor, Jermaine O'Neil decided to punch one of them.

The aftermath was the full year suspension of Ron Artest, 35 games for Jackson, and progressively less for 5 other players. The fan, who was a lifetime season ticket holder, lost the privilege of EVER coming to the palace again. That meant for concerts, and the like, as well.

Since then the league has instated several new policies. They seem to work, on the surface. Players going into the stands will automatically be tossed from the building. Fans will be brought up on charges. There is some new language in the CBA (collective bargaining agreement) saying just that.

But the problem still goes on nightly. Hakeem the dream, Charles Barkley, and Clyde Drexler were all assaulted with beer nightly, when leaving stadiums. This was 15 years ago. Fans, college level and above, have been throwing things on the court increasingly. A dad of a high school player came on the court during a HS playoff game and punched a ref.

And most recently, and perhaps in a case that is going to turn all this on its head, Antonio Daniel's wife was being accosted by a drunken fan. it got so bad, apparently, that his wife had to push the guy off. That's when Daniels decided to take matters into his own hands. He charged into the stands to protect his wife. Says Daniels of the incident:

"I witnessed my wife being threatened by a man that I learned later to be intoxicated.I saw him touch her, and I know I should not have acted the way I did, but I would have felt terrible if I didn't react. There was no time to call security. It happened too quickly."

And I say GOOD FOR HIM. First and foremost, this is not the same as the previous incident. This was a MAN protecting the person he loves most. Any one of us would react the same. But secondly, this points to a larger issue.

Who the fuck do the fans think they are? I know the whole, "we pay your salaries" bullshit excuse gives them the rationale to yell, even things they would not yell to someone they hated. But let me tell you something, GO FUCK YOURSELVES. That's right, I said it. Nothing gives you the right to treat another human being that way, much less one who is charged with the task of entertaining you nightly. Beyond that, asshats, yoru ticket sales aren't what pays the bills, TV advertising does. And most of it is advertising for the network, so you really aren't contributing at all (unless you live in a neilson house, and then only marginally).

And on an even larger scope, what do you expect to happen? First, if you throw a beer in someone's face. How do you think they will react? Most likely with blind, irrational violence. Not a lot of people think it through in that situation. But forget that. How do you expect them to react when you mess with their wife? Jesus. H. Christ. Get a clue, man. I say, you do the crime, you do the time. Ni this case, the time is getting pounded by a 6'11" 250 lb. athlete. While security watches. Maybe put it on the jumbotron, who knows.

OK, that last bit was extreme, but you get the idea. Fans are out of control. Basketball is one of the few sports left without a barrier wall between us and the people we admire. Don't take that away so you can make yourself a part of the action. I get that the charge in the air, and the proximity, they can intoxicate. That's why I go to games: I really do feel like a part of it. I also get that people want more of that feeling: it's a damned good feeling. But, just like recreational drinking, if you take it too far, you lose, pal. We could lose that closeness, and that would eventually lead us to losing the game.

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