All I can say is unbelievable. Last night, there was an ugly, ugly scene near Detroit, Michigan. It did not deal with any major crimes. There was no discovery of a gruesome new serial killer. There was no developments that would launch a thriller of a movie. There was just appalling disgrace and embarrassment.
With less than a minute on the clock in the fourth quarter, Ben Wallace, defensive powerhouse and center for the Detroit Pistons, received the ball and made a quick driving move to the hoop. Having blown past his defenders, it seemed as if he would get an easy two-point bucket. However, Ron Artest, a forward for the Indiana Pacers, who has a history of on-the-court shenanigans, attempted to block the shot by Wallace. When he realized he could not make the block, he pushed Ben Wallace in the back of his head. Frustrated by his team's performance, as they were dominated almost the entire game, Wallace retaliated. Big Ben shoved Artest by the throat, and the shenanigans were on.
There was much yelling and posturing. Chests were puffed out and there was a little shoving. The mass of players moved to the scorers' table, where they were separated, largely due to Rasheed Wallace and several assistant coaches. Soon, things seemed like they would settle down. Ben Wallace was still upset, but Ron Artest, apparently trying not to get himself into any more trouble, lay down on the scorer's table. He laid there for a short while until things really got ugly.
While Artest lay on the table, one fan decided to make a display of what he thought of the entire situation. To show his displeasure, this idiot thought it would be a great idea to throw his cup of beer onto the relaxing Artest. This is where things got terrible.
Artest, who has a history of flagrant fouls and of not being the nicest player on the court, leapt to his feet, and charged the section where the beer had come from. However, since he was laying on his back, and not looking at the crowd, Artest did not assault the man who threw the beer. He, unknowingly, attacked the man two seats down from him. Guard/forward Stephen Jackson, who seemed a bit too into the yelling and posturing in the earlier confrontation, followed Artest into the stands shortly thereafter. Needless to say, hilarity did not ensue.
It's hard to exactly described what happened after this point. There was a lot of brawling, a lot of liquids in various containers becoming airborne and landing on the court. Many players, on their way off the court into the locker rooms received early showers of popcorn, soda and beer. At one point, Artest became free of the melee and was standing near the hoop on the Pacers' side of the arena, when it appeared an overweight fan would throw a punch at him. The fan ran onto the court, and clenched his right hand and held his arm in a position that he would throw a punch. I think he then noticed the size and physique of Ron Artest and stood there as Artest hit him once, and then began to flail at the fan. The two were quickly seperated. The fan was taken to the floor by a bench coach (I believe). Once the fan got back up though, Jermaine O'Neal, the young, superstar center for the Pacers, ran towards the fan, and while sliding on the slickened court, decked the fan with a right cross. It was a punch that would have made Don King proud.
Pistons head coach Larry Brown, attempted to talk to the crowd to calm them down, but no one would listen. The brawl and the riot that ensued lasted several minutes. The Detroit police allowed the Indiana Pacers to leave the arena, and resume their regular travel schedule. The League released a statement saying that they had no official statement until they had reviewed all that had occurred. TV announcer, and NBA legend, Bill Walton said it best when he called the situation the worst thing he's ever seen in basketball in the 30 years he has been associated with it. I'd call that an understatement.
Shout out to Vimes who sent the following link to the travesty: http://www.sitesled.com/members/cbx34/Movie.wmv I apologize to those who don't believe in wmv, and if the link is broken.
Notes from the Brook: One of the replays showed that Artest's leg went right into Wallace's crotch during the foul, which might help explain why he reacted the way he did. Also, the game was called with 43 seconds left, first time that has happened in NBA history.