Tuesday, December 21, 2004
Christmas Day rematch 'makes me sick'
ESPN.com news services
Larry Brown has a lot on his mind.
While his team is hovering around the .500 mark through all it has been through during a season that is not even half over, Brown told Michael Wilbon and Tony Kornheiser on ESPN's "Pardon the Interruption" on Tuesday that he thought about not coming back.
"I never thought I'd feel that way about going to work," Brown said. "I never thought I'd feel that way about my sport."
The Detroit Pistons head coach says he's worried about the direction of his team after the Nov. 19 brawl in the final minute in a game against the Indiana Pacers at the Palace of Auburn Hills. Among those suspended was Pistons center Ben Wallace, who sat out six games.
The Pistons, 12-11 going into Wednesday night's game at Chicago, have gone 8-7 after the brawl, 3-3 during Wallace's suspension.
"Obviously, it was one of the ugliest scenes I've ever been a part of," Brown said.
"When you see little kids leaving the game crying ... My son doesn't even want to go back to a game," Brown said. His son, a Pistons ball boy, has not attended a game since the brawl.
"I'm bothered by the fact that it hurt Indiana's franchise, when you lose three key players," said Brown, who added that he himself had been involved with the Pacers during its days in the ABA as well as having coached them in the NBA from 1993 to '97.
Ron Artest was suspended for the remainder of the season, Stephen Jackson received a 30-game suspension, Jermaine O'Neal 25 and Anthony Johnson six for their roles in the brawl with fans.
"To have the league showcase this game, with both teams 12-11 [as of Tuesday] after what happened, just really makes me sick," Brown said of the Pistons' rematch with the Pacers, which is being televised nationally (12:30 ET on ESPN) on Christmas Day.
The NBA schedule was posted months earlier, on Aug. 2.
Brown understands that the Lakers-Heat matchup, the second game of ABC's doubleheader (3 ET on Saturday), draws interest because of Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal meeting as opponents for the first time.
In the aftermath of the brawl, arbitrator Roger Kaplan said Tuesday he will issue a ruling "in the next couple of days" on an appeal of the suspension given to four Pacers players. The case is almost certain to move to federal court if Kaplan rules in favor of the players and orders reductions in some of the longest suspensions ever handed down by NBA commissioner David Stern.
The NBA has said previously it does not believe Kaplan has jurisdiction to arbitrate penalties for on-court behavior. Kaplan must rule on two issues: Whether he has jurisdiction to hear the case; and the merits of the grievance itself (whether Stern had just cause to issue the lengthy suspensions).