November 25, 2004

Ron Artest: Day 5

There was a great piece in Slate yesterday by Ben Mathis-Lilley (not to be confused with Ben Fong-Torres) arguing that the Pacers-Pistons brawl was not so much a "tragedy" or "stain on the game," so much as a supremely-entertaining, completely harmless event.

Indeed, as I said the other day, that is how it will be remembered. It happened, the perpetrators got their just punishment, and years from now we'll look back on it in amusement. Mathis-Lilley:

Rather than acknowledge that the brawl was a freak occurrence—and a funny one to boot—the sports commentariat have heralded the apocalypse and rapturously praised NBA Commissioner David Stern's predictably harsh suspensions. Mike Lupica of the New York Daily News wrote that the fight "was more than just a black eye. It was Stern's Black Sox scandal." No, this was his Disco Demolition Night.
Last night, Bill O'Reilly did a piece on the fight, and it was like one of his segments where he rails against the evils of porn while cycling porn footage: throughout the segment, O'Reilly played a non-stop reel of every major on-field sports brawl of the past two decades: there was the Pedro/Don Zimmer incident, the subsequent bullpen brawl, the Izzy Alcantara minor-league fight, the conflagration between Jeff Van Gundy and Alonzo Mourning's leg, and even the Nolan Ryan/Robin Ventura thing. If you've watched ESPN at all in the last week, you've probably seen the same reel yourself.

During this, O'Reilly railed against sports violence, while I and probably everyone watching laughed, wistfully remembering when we'd watched those fights as kids. And remember- no one in them ever got hurt. Funny that Mr. O's clips omitted any reference to the '86 Mets, the most notoriously brawl-happy team in sports history, but that may be because his guest for the segment was Keith Hernandez.

Sports Guy, in a pair of columns, expressed similar sentiments. And yes, I thought the cartoon was funny.

Posted by Stephen Silver at November 25, 2004 01:34 AM

I didn't ... I thought the cartoon kinda sucked. Nowhere near as humorous as the columns on an average basis. Were those supposed to be Sports Guy, Sports Gal, Hench, etc.? I didn't get it ...

The Artest fight, tho ... pure comedy. Sports Guy is right in calling it a "poor man's Zapruder film."

Happy Thanksgiving!

Posted by: LilB at November 25, 2004 02:46 PM

It's fair to say NOW that the fight was harmless. There were no serious injuries. But with sucker punches, 6-9 guys throwing haymakers and a chair flying, it could have been very serious. Imgaine if a kid got hit by that chair, or if someone really took a shot clean to the face.

Posted by: Paul Katcher at November 26, 2004 01:56 PM

Posted by: bingbing at March 7, 2011 05:39 AM
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