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November 22, 2004

Punch Your Boss in the Face Day

When Ron Artest and his Indiana Pacer teammates charged into the stands in Detroit and began swinging indiscriminately at the paying customers, I can't say I was surprised. Artest is what Snoop Dogg might call "a little bitch." He's a punk who cheap shots other players while on the court, and disrespects the game while off it. He's a guy who has picked up as many NBA suspensions as I have fingers (and I have not had a grenade accident).

As columnist Dan Wetzel put it:

I posed the following question to three NBA executives Sunday: If last week someone hypothetically described the incident that played out in Detroit, which current player would you first think was involved?

All three just laughed. The answer was obvious.

He's a guy who earlier this month asked his coach for a month off to promote his rap album. That's a month of not showing up for practices or games during the season. He still doesn't see what was wrong with the request.

Was Artest provoked? Sure. When the fans cross the line that separates good behavior from bad, what keeps an angry athelete from turning a sporting event into the Vibe Awards? Respect for the law. Respect for the game. Respect for your teammates. You don't need the whole package. Possession of any one of these attributes is sufficient. Artest struck out. By wading into the stands, Artest assaulted the people who pay the kind of silly money required to attend NBA games. Artest pulls a seven figure salary, and he assaluted his bosses.

Admittedly, starting a riot in Detroit is not the most difficult accomplishment in the world, but it still rates a man-sized punishment. The NBA has acquired sufficient balls to deliver one -- a season-long suspension without pay. That's a $5 million attention getter for Artest. The NBA players' union is already grousing, and will certainly appeal. Jacking a few fans' jaws probably rates just a warning in the union's eyes.

My wife Jackie posed this question to me: "In what job can you go to work, start punching people, and not expect to get fired?" It made me think wistfully of some of the lousier jobs I've had. It sure would have beaten the heck out of "Bring Your Daughter to Work Day."

Posted by at November 22, 2004 04:39 PM | TrackBack
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Answer: Professional boxer.

Posted by: Laurence Simon at November 22, 2004 05:10 PM

RACIST! HATECRIME! Why, if he was white and waded into the stands with some friends to to punch out a few of the fans, you wouldn't have said a word. Your mention of him wanting to take time off to promote his "rap" album (as you incorrectly call it - everybody knows it's hip-hop) wouldn't have raised your ire if he wanted to take a month off to promote his hillbilly music.

Um, okay, maybe not.

Posted by: Blackavar at November 22, 2004 07:59 PM

"Admittedly, starting a riot in Detroit is not the most difficult accomplishment in the world"

Well, this is probably true, but the Pistons haven't played in Detroit for years. Artest started a riot in suburbia -- a slightly more difficult task.

Posted by: Jema at November 22, 2004 10:00 PM

Artest is an amateur at this sort of thing. December 23 1979 at Madison Square Garden, in perhaps the greatest fan-bashing by pro-athletes, Mike Milbury (a second cousin of mine) followed the lead of Terry O'Reilly and scaled the glass, (This is not an easy feat wearing scates) and proceeded to remove a fans shoe and beat him with it. He was suspended 6 games. O'Reilly got 8.

Posted by: Sully at November 23, 2004 04:54 PM

"Skates", my bad...

Posted by: Sully at November 23, 2004 04:55 PM
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