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NBA brawl should be the last straw

Unless you've been in a cave the last few days, you have seen the clip of the brawl that erupted between the New York Knicks and the Denver Nuggets recently.

NBA Commissioner David Stern levied heavy suspensions and fines this week to those involved, including a 15-game suspension for the league's leading scorer Carmelo Anthony, in an effort to head off the growing public relations problem of violence in the league.

The NBA, which should stand for the National Brawling Association, has had several incidents in the past two years, including the infamous Rod Artest going into the stands incident, and the result is people are turning away from the game.

It's odd that when ratings and interest in the game starts falling, Stern is always there to either issue a dress code or introduce a new ball to grab national attention back to the league.

This recent incident has to make you wonder what has gone wrong with the NBA.

The league I grew up watching, with players like Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Michael Jordan and Dominique Wilkins, no longer exists.

Today's culture of money, fame, money, fame and more money is turning individual players into self-preserving players in a team sport.

Mix that with athletes who are not old enough to serve in war yet they're receiving multi-million dollar contracts and you have a recipe for disaster.

Basketball is game for kids that has been hijacked by today's NBA star and those stars are slowly, but surely, killing the game we all learned to love at such an early age.

Not only are NBA players today allowed to get away with traveling (which is already a foreign concept since the rule hasn't been called in years), but they are allowed to get away with influencing our young with reprehensible behavior.

Charles Barkley was once quoted as saying he is a basketball player, not a role model, and it is that attitude that is destroying the game.

NBA athletes are role models to young people in that they have taken a game for kids and turned it into a livelihood.

Their skills on the court are almost unbelievable at times and that captivates the youth of today.

While NBA stars should be allowed to have a private, off-the-court life, their behavior on the court should be something kids can look up to.

So, during the Christmas holidays when many basketball games are on and the whole family is together, send a message to the NBA by turning the station because the NBA games of today are not programs fit for a family.

Austin Phillips is The Greenville Advocate sports editor.

You can contact him by e-mailing austin.phillips@greenvilleadvocate.com or by calling 382-3111 ext. 122.