Athletes need to take a time out

Published 12:00 am Friday, November 26, 2004

I was channel surfing the other night and came across people fighting in the stands and thought I had mistakenly found an unaired episode WWE Smackdown! I watched the brawl for a second thinking it was choreographed. Then I looked down to see what channel I was watching, it was on TNT and it wasn't wrestling it was professional basketball and it was live on TV.

Wait, you mean you have basketball players fighting people in the stands? Like the league doesn't need any more black eyes.

First the whole Kobe situation, now you have guys wanting to slug it out with the fans.

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You know, I've been saying for years that the NBA was nothing but thugs and posers, this just proves I was right.

For those of you who have been living under a rock and haven't watched ESPN or any news media in the past few days, here's what happened.

The fight was between the Indiana Pacers and the Detroit Piston fans. It all started when Detroit's Ben Wallace, of White Hall fame, was fouled by Indiana's Ron Artest.

Wallace took offense to the fact that someone would dare try to block one of his shots and then shoved Artest in the face. Both benches cleared. After about 10 minutes and getting the two teams separated, Artest had actually lain out across the scorer's table.

Everything was beginning to calm down when a water bottle came flying in and landed on Artest.

The brawl was on. Artest went into the stands and proceeded to beat on a fan now let's step back for a moment and think about the message that this is sending to our children.

The NBA claims to be role models to children but how can you be a role model when your solution to a problem is by using your fists instead of letting cooler heads prevail?

Thursday night the message was sent loud and clear that these "role models" had rather use their fists.

Now, as a result of their actions, they are having to face the consequences. And they should.

Commissioner David Stern, who had to sit by and watch with great interest what played out with Kobe didn't have to with his.

"It was unanimous, one to nothing," Stern said in a press conference on Friday. "It was my decision and I decided it."

Decided he did. Ron Artest is done for the season.

Jermaine O'neal is out for 25 games and Stephen Jackson is out for 30.

Some people along with those suspended are saying that the punishment was too severe.


The punishment fits the crime. If I was a fan in Detroit and I caught a left hook or a straight right like that one guy did when came onto the floor, there would be legal problems and a 25 or 30 game suspension would be the last of their worries.

Now, all of my bretheren in the media are afraid that Artest is going to, as put it "there's a risk that Ron Artest will completely withdraw from the game now, supported by family and associates who believe that he got jobbed by the NBA."

He didn't get jobbed.

The whiner. Maybe now he can go and work on his career as a rapper.

But the alarming thing is that just two days later, this same scenario played out on the football field.

Saturday was rivalry weekend and for some teams that means good, clean hate.

For the South Carolina and Clemson squads it meant a bench-clearing brawls.

According to, the Tigers and Gamecocks had a brief confrontation before Saturday's game and throughout officials had to quell small skirmishes and separate players.

That was just small potatoes compared to what happened in the fourth quarter. reports that the brawl broke out with 5:48 to go.

It started when Tigers defensive lineman Bobby Williamson took down South Carolina quarterback Syvelle Newton and appeared to linger too long on top of him.

South Carolina offensive lineman Chris White came to help Newton. White's teammates Na'shan Goddard and Jabari Levey went after Williamson. Tigers Cory Groover, Donnell Clark and Gaines Adams joined in and the chaos began as both sidelines cleared.

South Carolina's Lou Holtz, coaching his last game with the Gamecocks, and Clemson coach Tommy Bowden sprinted to the center of the melee to try and break things up.

Security and police officers were needed to restore order.

"When players make a decision to run out on the field, there are going to be repercussions from those decisions," Holtz said.

No kidding there's going to be reprecussions.

The good thing to come out of this situation is that both leagues and conferences took responsibility for their action.

And as a result of the fight, both teams have declined their bowl bids.

Now, if they will actually try to control their players, then sports will be good wholesome family entertainment.

But, before that can ever happen, the stars of the NBA especially need to check their ego's at the door and do what they get paid to do, that's play basketball for fun.

Its that simple.

Griffin Pritchard is the Sports Editor of the Greenville Advocate, he can be reached by phone at 382-3111 or via email at