Fans, players and personnel in the Palace at Auburn Hills escaped serious injuries in the wild fracas that enveloped the arena late in Friday's game between the Pacers and Pistons, but there's no denying that sports received another nasty black eye.
We asked for your thoughts on Friday's incident and the state of violence and civility in sports, and you responded by the thousands. Here are some responses.
What Ron Artest did was wrong, what Stephen Jackson did was equally wrong. They should be suspended 5-10 games and fined. That being said, if David Stern really wants us to believe that he cares one way or the other, he'll make sure that every last one of the idiots in the stands are prosecuted to the fullest extent, have their season tickets revoked where possible, and hit the Pistons organization with a healthy fine as well. I'm not in any way defending Artest, but lets all ask ourselves a question: If nothing is thrown at him does he go into the stands?
Rapid City, SD
What a sad day in the NBA. Season suspensions should be imposed by the NBA. These players do not respect this game, and they have damaged the reputation of the league for years to come. Comments made afterwards by both players and management have been hard to listen to. Ben Wallace does not seem to think its a big deal, and management attempts to slide responsibility of the incident to security, which makes me wonder if they think the fans are plain dumb. 10-game suspensions would be a shame, and a slap in the face to the fans of the NBA, who like myself have supported this league for years. This was a sincerely horrible event. Message to Stern: Take appropriate action now. Don't make me be embarrassed to be a proud fan of the NBA.
No more making fun of European soccer hooliganism. We have our own hooligan problem, and we need to address it like the Europeans have. 1) Fine teams $1 million for each fan incident to motivate them to control their customers, and 2) implement life-time attendance bans for the instigating fans. It's time to get serious.
I feel that the media reaction to this pathetic incident is disgusting. Although I don't agree with the fans behavior, that is what security is for. The one fan who threw a PLASTIC cup at the player should have been kicked out of the stadium and even ticketed, but for the media to say the players were acting in self defense and only acting in a way anyone would have if it were to happen to them, makes me sick. Under no circumstances is it ok for players to go off the court and into the stands to attack fans. There were innocent people in those stands that were hurt, all because of the ego of an overpaid athlete. The fans acted in self defense when several men bigger than most stormed after them. It's sad to me that all fans have gotten a bad rap for one jerk that can't control himself, and that society excuses the actions of men who play professional sports and should know how to behave themselves.
There is absolutely no excuse for what happened at that game. There was no reason for Artest to go into the stands, whether he got a cup in his face or not. NBA players are professionals and have a level of professionalism to maintain. As a first grade teacher, I am mortified that these professional players that my students want to be just like, would demonstrate such irresponsible behavior. Whether players want to be role models or not, it becomes part of their job due to their visibility. Yes, fans need to be under control and not throw things at the players. But, Artest's choice to go into the stands escalated the situation to what it became last night. Frankly, I'm disappointed at what ESPN's "NBA Analysts" had to say about the incident because they blamed the whole thing on the fans. Analysts are supposed to be objective and it is clear that what happened last night would not have if Artest did not charge the stands.
With alcohol-fueled fans acting more and more brazen, they feel that they can say and do what they wish because they paid their hard-earned money for a ticket and thus, have license to access the playing field or court. Unfortunately, it doesn't come as a surprise that an incident like this has finally occurred in the NBA. A violent occurrence like this was only a matter of when.
Rancho Santa Margarita, CA
Not to excuse the actions of the players in any way, but I am tired of drunken fans who feel that they bear no responsibility whatsoever for their conduct. I'd like to see some of the fans who threw things serving prison time for this - maybe that will get the message to people that buying a ticket doesn't excuse you from acting like a human being.
The fracas in the stands was the fault of Artest and Jackson, and they should be held fully accountable for their roles. Neither Artest nor O'Neal, however, should be blamed or penalized for the melee on the court with the two hobbits in the Piston jerseys. If you are a fan and enter the field of play with the intent of assaulting a player, you are fair game.
San Francisco, CA
Fans have always been able to say whatever they want to players on the court (or field), but it seems that recently they feel increasingly free to physically provoke athletes and coaches. Teams react by ejecting fans or turning them over to the police to receive meaningless citations. Regardless, the next day they are back on the street and able to resume attending games. The problem will only abate when fans and the teams they root for are made to suffer consequences together. The Pistons should forfeit their next 10 home games, which would encourage them and other teams in the NBA to take crowd control seriously. Separately, state legislatures should pass laws that call for five-year prison terms for anyone caught on videotape throwing anything onto a playing surface or at a coach or player. Until such harsh measures are instituted, fans will feel increasingly emboldened to treat players like they are in the dunk tank at the county fair.
To me, it is black and white. Ron Artest showed bad judgment, but if it wasn't for the moron who tossed the object at Artest, we would not be having this discussion right now. Fans are INCREASINGLY getting out of control, and it is time to STOP blaming the players and start looking at the bigger picture. OBVIOUSLY, alcoholic beverages SHOULD NOT be sold at these events. You want to drink and watch the game? Go to a sports bar, plenty to choose from.
Ron Artest is to blame. If a professional athlete can't take getting hit in the chest by a plastic cup of beer without going into the stands, then the NBA has bigger problems on the horizon.
Some people will criticize the security, but that situation is unforeseeable. I think they did their job by not allowing any weapons in the arena, imagine if somebody pulled out a knife?!
The person to blame is the idiot who threw the cup/bottle on Artest. Artest was staying out of the melee on the floor (about which I was quite impressed). Had the idiot not gotten involved, things would have quieted and the game would have ended. Frankly, I think the League should take one of two actions: (1) Hold no more home games in Detroit this year -- it's obvious the personnel at the Palace are incapable of keeping the players safe; or (2) Ban alcohol sales at Detroit games for the balance of the season -- thus keeping idiots from becoming excessively inflamed. Yes, both options negatively affect people who weren't involved, but the actions of others often have consequences which negatively impact innocent people. That's life. It's supposedly what keep us a civilized society -- the desire not to negatively impact the innocent.
While the players of the NBA, and all professional sports for that matter, are expected to be above the fans, the brawl Friday was not the responsibility of the players. The confrontation between Ben Wallace and Ron Artest was abating, Artest was laying on the scorers table. Unruly fans are to blame for stoking the dying fire of a confrontation back into a full fledged blaze. And to everyone who automatically puts blame on Stephen Jackson, Ron Artest, Jermaine O'Neal, and everyone else involved, I pose to you this question. Would you have acted any differently? Artest was merely defending himself, and his teammates were coming to his aid when he was grossly outnumbered. One thing that no one is mentioning, yet featured prominently in many shots of Artest in the crowd is Rasheed Wallace, one of the "bad boy's" of the NBA jumping into the stands to come to the defense of Artest. Think about that for a while.
I am a fan of the Detroit Pistons. Like every other fan during the recent rivalry with Indiana, I have been displeased by the Pacers' attitude, to say the least. But after tonight's event, I would like to congratulate the fans that took part in this incident for embarrassing the Pistons, their fans and the city of Detroit. Because of you, we have now been shown to a national audience as not only unsportsmanlike, but downright barbaric. I hope someday we will be able to live down tonight's events.
Grand Rapids, MI
As a lifelong Pacer fan, I was indeed emotionally charged watching all this unfold live on ESPN. Don't get me wrong, I was disgusted at how our team reacted, especially Stephen Jackson, who wasn't really involved in the initial altercation with Wallace. I don't think you can find any way to condone Ron Artest going into the stands after a fan. With that being said, where is Detroit's security? How in the world can Detroit's GM say there was "ample security" at the game when fans from the other side of the court come down ONTO the court and continue to attack Indiana players? Detroit's inability to control their rowdy, out of control, and dangerous fans put both teams, officials, and even innocent bystanders at risk. The Pistons organization should take the toll of the fallout from this melee.
What a disgrace! The way ESPN has backed up the players, you would think the FANS are to blame for this. One IDIOT threw a cup. This in NO WAY justifies a PLAYER going in the stands! Was it PRIDE? Was it he felt dis-respected, what was he showing the children? THIS WAS NOT SELF-DEFENSE, HE WAS NOT IN FEAR FOR HIS LIFE, HE WAS NOT "PROTECTING" HIMSELF, there were police there that he could have written up a report for him. Artest was just being "a man" and showing kids that VIOLENCE solves problems. No matter how the ESPN commentators want to throw the "self-defense" spin, the fact is Artest should have walked away. Had he done that, none of the ensuing melee would have occurred. ESPN should really watch their "contempt" for the FANS, maybe the FANS should just stop buying tickets...then what would ESPN have to talk about?
Reason 1,568 why nobody watches the NBA anymore.
Redwood City, CA
As a fan of the NBA, I feel that some people forget that NBA players are ... surprise! ... human beings, with common human reactions to certain stimuli. I blame the fans for placing these athletes on too high a pedestal.
As a Pacers fan, what makes me the saddest is that this happened to Ron Artest. Had this happened to Carmelo or KG everyone would've been on their side. Now that Ron has taken great steps forward with his anger issues, these scumbag fans blew that. You can kid yourself all you want and say he was wrong, but he defended himself like any man would have. The Pacers weren't scared that it was them versus 22,000 maniacs, and I applaud that. Fans are getting way out of control and this is what needed to happen for there to be any change.
Ron Artest and Ron Artest alone is at fault for this. The fool tries to claim self defense? What was he trying to punch the guy out before he got back in the beer line and had a chance to throw another one with 45 seconds left? Some idiot threw a beer, which idiotic or not occurs at 99.9% of sporting events. Artest responded by instigating a riot, assaulting a fan that he couldn't even have known if he threw the beer or not. He should be prosecuted for inciting a riot and assault and battery. What was further sickening was ESPN's commentators solely blaming the fans and trying their hardest to suck up to the players. I think in the end we will have at least 3 Pacers facing A&B charges, multiple lawsuits, and black eye for the NBA.
Put on your best poker face David Stern. You will pretend to be ashamed and disgusted with this horrific riot. You will profess instituting severe punishment for the players involved. Behind your mask you are grinning from ear to ear. Bad publicity to get the nation to pay attention to your sport is better than none at all. You can't help but wet your pants over the ratings this will generate for your league. These two teams will appropriately next meet on Christmas day. This will be better than any present Santa could leave under your tree. Go ahead and administer your token six-ten game suspensions. Slap their wrists and get them back on the court before the old jolly one slides down the chimney. NBA action, it's FANtastic.
ESPN's crew on NBA Shootaround was outrageous. You cannot defend a player entering the stands, period. Grow up and be a bigger man than some idiot in the stands, and for Heaven's sake, prosecute him. He broke the law. Artest's actions turned the event into a riot instead of one jerk being led out of the arena in handcuffs. He even assaulted a fan who did not throw the beer at him, and I hope the trial lawyers line their pockets with Artest's money.
All this from poor sportsmanship after a foul? I love basketball... have coached basketball... and I think this was a clear example of the general loss of sportsmanship and high standards out of basketball... replaced by the big dollar business of NBA glitz and high dollar basketball players that have yet to become gentlemen or citizens of the hardwood. (This started with a shove from a non-flagrant foul or a cup of beer?) This was a clear demonstration of fans and players that broke laws. I listened to the ESPN announcers and was disappointed at their saying any player would have reacted that way. Players have the same rights as any person if struck by a cup or fist to press charges. Being hit by a cup is not a continual threat or life threatening event that would require a person to attack another. I believe this will be an entire demonstration of everyone trying to find ways to justify poor behavior and choices from players and fans.
Am I disgraced by the actions of my fellow fans? The answer to this is resounding YES. In almost every instance I have seen, it has been the players fault for not showing restraint and attacking a fan. However, what the Detroit fans did was a disgrace. Heckling and name-calling is one thing, but under no circumstance does a fan have a right to throw something at a player. Truthfully, I'm happy that fan and all others that thought they had the license to get into it with the players go what they deserved: a punch to their head. Players should be able to go into an arena without fear for their safety. Its plain and simple, if you are a fan: cheer and heckle, but if you decide to get involved like the Detroit fans did, you deserve whatever you may get.
You know, the blame seems to be the big issue in coverage and analysis of the horrific events of tonight's game (if you can even call it that), but I think that the biggest thing right now is the hurt that comes from this. I don't mean to sound too Dr. Phil on you, but there were children everywhere crying, there was a woman trampled on the floor ... there were countless things that happened that were just disgraceful. I love the NBA. I love the competition, I love the players ... and I am saddened by what happened tonight. Jim Gray sounded like he was holding back tears in his reporting; Bill Walton could barely look up at the camera he was so disgraced and disappointed in what happened; and I was literally nauseous watching this. It is such a shame that the name of the NBA had to be tarnished so badly by a few fans that couldn't stay in their place and a few players that took matters in to their own hands, not to mention Ben Wallace's overreaction that really started the entire altercation. I am ashamed to be a lover of the NBA tonight, and I hope they redeem themselves sometime soon.
Brooklyn Park, MN
I went to the Seahawk-Rams game earlier this year, and not only were there bottles and debris thrown at the St. Louis players as they walked off the field, but we also called security and got some drunk college kids thrown out. And these were our own Seahawk fans. Fans everywhere are out of control, and the obvious problem is alcohol. The fans in Detroit who threw bottles and chairs, and unbelievably rushed the court, got what they deserved then, and what's still coming to them. David Stern and the local police better not react with typical anti-athlete actions, because in this case the fans should be charged fully.
As a former security guard at the Spectrum, I have to say Ron Artest was completely out of line. That fan that threw the beverage would've been dealt with accordingly by security and police, a slap on the wrist and a small fine - possibly a few hours in the tank. There was absolutely no reason for Artest to go up into the stands, he could've simply pointed the bad fan out. But I don't even know that Artest ATTACKED the right fan. As soon as an opposing player goes into the stands it becomes an attack on ALL the fans - and they're going to defend themselves. I've dealt with plenty of beverage tossers and nothing like this has ever even come close to happening because the players always blew it off like professionals should. If this is the darkest day in NBA history, it is Ron Artest who will be remembered, not popcorn throwing fans.
NO!! Ron Artest is NOT the symbol of what's wrong with sports!! What about the father and son duo who attacked a coach on the baseball field? What about the fans at hockey games who antagonize the hockey players? Friday's brawl was absolutely ridiculous on the part of the FANS!! We are accustomed to players arguing with each other over a bad call, but to witness FANS throwing drinks and food at players, with no provocation, was unacceptable! The most disheartening memory I have is of fans pouring drinks onto the heads of the players, personnel, and security as they tried to exit the game floor. WHAT REASON DID THOSE FANS HAVE TO GET INVOLVED?? They were clearly out of harm's way!! I think each and every fan that willingly involved themselves in the melee should be charged! As a fan, I'm fed up with FELLOW FANS, who use profanity and hurl insults at the athletes (and now food/drinks), with no consideration for children who are witnessing this behavior! Fans/Adults not only behave inappropriately at professional sporting events, they also act this way at children's sporting events! True, we expect athletes to be accountable for their actions, but we, as fans, are also accountable for our actions. When we buy tickets, we expect to see an exciting game. In turn, professional athletes expect support from their fans, NOT beer thrown into their faces!!
Ron Artest showed a lot of restraint after Ben Wallace overreacted and came after him. As an impartial fan, I feel the Detroit fans were way out of line. Emotions are already tense, you've just been assaulted by "Big Ben Wallace"... you didn't retaliate, you're trying to calm down...and someone throws a full cup of beer at you? Ridiculous. The Detroit fan got exactly what he deserved. And I'm happy that the Pacers stuck up for one another. The Piston fans were asking for it. Artest is human too. Let's remember that. And also, let's remember that most of these fans are older than these 20 something year old NBA players. Where is their restraint?
Yes, I am from Detroit, but my thoughts regarding this view are not slanted. There is absolutely no justification for a professional athlete to rush the stands after being hit on the chest with beer. Moreover, we're talking about Ron Artest; the same guy who has been mocked and criticized all of his career, rightfully so. I was in shock after seeing the altercation and the fights that ensued, but I am equally shocked that your (ESPN) NBA analysts have defended Ron Artest's actions, without any mention of his ridiculous foul on Ben Wallace, in which Artest clearly was not going for the ball and eventually hit Wallace in the back of the head and on the neck. To add to the man's stupidity, he lays on the scorer's table and begins, or acts as if he's being interviewed by the broadcasters. This man should not be allowed to step one foot onto another NBA court, let alone be suspended. His erratic behavior is just too much in the environment of professional sports.
Clearly the arrogance of Artest by swiping at Wallace's head was the start of it. The game was out of reach. The fans did the right thing by protecting themselves once Artest and Jackson got into the stands. Fans are on the same side as players..if the players want to cross that line then they must face the fans on their turf. O'Neal's cheap shot just shows his cowardice. Taking a swing at a guy who's standing defenseless is clearly an indication that the law needs to come in and no plea bargains!!!!
How many players have had something thrown at them? The situation had died down and Artest decided that he wanted to get back at a fan when he should have just walked away. Frank Francisco move over cause you got a new buddy named Ron Artest!
I know since I am writing from Metro Detroit most of you will dismiss this as me being a homer. But when is it acceptable for a player to go into the stands to assault a fan. I understand that Artest may have felt threatened but he has to have cooler head than the one he displayed. He should get suspended for at least 25 games. I can understand him going into the stands after the beer was thrown on him but for him to sucker punch a fan is unacceptable. I think that Stephen Jackson should also be suspended for a least 15-20 games for his role in this ugly incident. Ben Wallace also deserves reprimand. At least 5 games. But for you to say that the fans were all at fault is ridiculous. This was a bad situation made worse by an unstable player who probably should have been dealt with a long time ago.
Danon E. Birch
This was certainly ugly, but it is not the worst ever event between fans and athletes. The worst was Monica Seles getting stabbed from behind. That altered her career.
There is absolutely no way that this can be blamed on Ron Artest. The biggest assignment of blame must go to the referees. The Ref who was breaking up the original skirmish with Artest and Wallace held Artest "back" from Wallace, even though Wallace was initiating the hostility. The referees allowed the pushing and shoving to go on WAY TOO LONG and eventually, some drunk fan is going to take a shot at a player. Second, the security was horrible. How can security allow a fan to get so close to a player that he can land a FULL CUP OF LIQUID right on Artest's face right after a basketball brawl? You have to get the fans out of there during these heated confrontations. Somehow, several fans got on the court. This can NEVER happen during a game, period. Wallace was upset about the foul and Artest was doing his best to stay away from him. The referees and security have a responsibility to protect the players. If someone threw something at me from that close, I would defend myself too.
Los Angeles, CA
It is time for the NBA to protect the players and fans. The walkways should be covered, adequate security should be in place, get the fans off of the court and ban alcohol after halftime. In addition, for you "Ben Wallace" lovers, Ben Wallace was the reason all of this happened, Artest's actions were within the game, Wallace was simply being a baby, not something new when he loses. The NBA (and other professional sports) needs to take a deep hard look in the mirror and decide if they want to continue to sit on their behind or get control over the game and make it a family friendly environment again. If they don't, they may just lose future paying customers.
Personally, I'm disgusted with the double standard I'm seeing. The athletes are expected to be model citizens while the fans are allowed to be absolute jerks and punks? We may now be to the point where we need to concern ourselves more with these few fans that try their best to ruin the experience for everyone else before we chastise the players for their behavior.
The fans were out of hand. Anytime anything is thrown out onto the court whether it be food, drinks, or worse a chair the fans need to be examined. The players were acting in self defense and at some points even helping the other team get fans off of the players. No matter what the circumstances are fans should not be going on the court and confronting players. The players are professional athletes and they know better than to get involved in a brawl with the fans, but a some point it turns into self defense, and I believe that it was indeed self defense.
Repulsive, in every sense of the word. Throwing things at an athlete is shameful behavior and it is clear that security did not move to secure the situation when it had the chance. But ultimately, the blame must lie with the players. It was the players who incited the incident with their on court scuffle. While Artest may have felt threatened or angry, he crossed the line when he entered the stands. He and Stephen Jackson should both be placed on immediate and indefinite suspension. The ESPN team referring to "possible 10 game suspensions" is repugnant. These men are incredibly large and powerful, and they are paid millions of dollars a year as entertainers. They have the responsibility to control themselves at all times. The appropriate reaction for everyone (which some of the players managed) was to immediately leave to court. Never, never, never can a professional athlete willingly engage in a physical altercation with a fan. Yes, security and fans who were involved and players from both teams be punished for this incident. But the league must send a hard message in order to break this chain of violence. Players must be made to understand that this will not be tolerated.
I have always been a fan of the NBA and after seeing what happened tonight I don't know if I can still be a fan. After tempers die down and punishments are made only then can I decide whether or not I can still support this league. The NBA must come down hard on this situation. Tonight was a disgrace everyone is responsible and reprications should follow. If the NBA allowed me to make the decisions - the following punishments would follow. Ben Wallace - 15 game suspension Ron Artest - 1 year suspension Steve Jackson - 1 year suspension Jermaine O'Neal - Monetary fine The Detroit Crowd - those who can be prosecuted should be and the organization should be suspended to a different arena for the rest of the year. They should call some other state home for a season - let that set a precedent, as fans if you get out of control your team will be moved for a period of time. Imagine Detroit without the Pistons. All Detroit fans should suffer for such a childish display. The NBA must come down hard on the players and on the organization. If the NBA does not they are only setting themselves up for something worse in the future - and they will have lost one of the few remaining NBA fans as well.
I can't believe anyone would even hint to defend Artest for charging into the stands to attack someone who may have thrown a cup. Shoot, he could mistake the culprit amidst the confusion and, god forbid, attack an innocent spectator. What's more when one reacts in such a manner they are increasing and encouraging the risk of further turmoil and the perils of chaos. Certainly its horrible that the fans would act in such a manner but I am appalled that anyone is defending that absurd reaction by Artest...He had to scale several rows of seats just to encounter the alleged attacker you'd think the attacker would be doing the attacking...but). If all athletes reacted this way to heckling and inappropriate fan behavior people may opt for rattle snake hunting as a safer pastime.
It's great to see an entire half-hour of SportsCenter devoted to this brawl, then at commercial break, the viewing audience is subjected to the new "Grand Theft Auto" video game. Try telling your son or daughter that the mainstream media doesn't condone violence. Bravo, ESPN. Bravo.
St. Louis, MO
I think the professional athletes are solely to blame for this horrid event! The teams are supposedly professionals and role models, of which neither was displayed. Personally, I feel that the pro players involved should be out for the season and the NBA commissioner should require mandatory rage control sessions for the players involved. It is so very sad that the children who witnessed this brawl in person will forever be scarred, only because ADULT PRO BALL PLAYERS cannot determine when to walk off the court and into the locker rooms to prevent this type of fight/brawl. I am FINISHED with pro basketball!! Thank you, Libby Collinsworth
Friday's brawl was absolutely terrible...each time I see a replay, I get even more sick to my stomach. What makes me even closer to losing it is the ESPN analysts who claim that these Pacers players did nothing wrong...are you insane? This is clearly a line that should never be crossed. Was the fan wrong for throwing a beer at Artest? Without a doubt. However, the moment Artest ran up into the stands in a furious rage was the moment he crossed the line. It makes me sick to see these NBA players, these huge athletes who lift weights on a daily basis, sucker-punch these fans. Yet we are supposed to feel bad for these beasts of men because it was a frustrating game that they could not handle emotionally? Let the fans say whatever they want, these players are making millions of dollars and can deal with these weak forms of harassment. Imagine if any white-collared worker lost his cool like this after a reaming from his boss. NBA players will get no sympathy from me...I think a boycott of the NBA would only be fitting after such an outrage.