The NBA Needs To Reiterate That That Ticket Doesn’t Give Fans Indelible Rights

By Gregory Moore
Updated: November 20, 2004

SAN ANTONIO – If a game has to end with 45.9 seconds left on the clock, something definitely went wrong in the NBA. That is exactly what happened Friday night in Detroit when the game between the Indiana Pacers and the Detroit Pistons was called. Why was it called? Because a melee broke out between fans and players. Yet if you want to place blame on how this situation escalated, forget about Ben Wallace and Ron Artest. Forget about that a brawl broke out between the players themselves. The escalation of this situation happened when a fan decided to interject himself into a situation that was already out of control. The minute that fan decided to throw a drink into Artest’s face, all bets were off and he was going to get his ass kicked. So before the NBA decides to levy fines at the players for their participation, maybe what they need to reiterate to their fans is that just because you buy a ticket, that doesn’t mean you have indelible rights to be a smart ass and think you are immune to retaliation.

I’m all for disciplining the players who got off the bench and hopefully the league will see to that. I’m even all for Artest and Stephen Jackson being suspended for a few extra games because they never should have gone into the stands. And while I may not approve of their actions, I’m like Chris Rock; I do understand the reasoning behind it. Fans these days think they have a right to act like idiots. If you think you can berate a player and then throw a drink in his face while that player is awaiting instructions from the scorer’s table, you are definitely two brick loads short of common sense. If you are going to charge a player, you better expect to get knocked out by him. If you re stupid enough to get up and go after him again, then you deserve the ass whooping you are going to get. Folks let’s be clear about something. Fans have no business interjecting themselves in situations that are outside the parameters that their ticket allows. What that statement means is this: that ticket guarantees you a seat in the game but you are strictly a spectator. If you interfere with the game, you are in the wrong. The fans that decided they wanted to be bad guys and take on NBA players deserved every single lick they got. They deserved it and they should be arrested for it. They trespassed by stepping on the court. The fan that threw the drink in Artest’s face needs to face assault charges and any lawsuit that these individuals think they can get away with needs to be null and void before some sleazebag from some sick law firm can even file papers.

Detroit fans should know better and they are as equal to blame as are the players involved. The City of Detroit should be embarrassed for the incident because it only backs up what many from the outside believe. There is already a stigmatism that Detroit natives are ill equipped to handle adversity or success well. References of when the city was burned down during a World Series still floats. Racial riots aren’t anything new and yes I’m going to play that card right off the top. If the players are fined and/or suspended but the fans who participated are given slaps on the wrist, Black Detroitians will be up in arms. I’m not inciting a darn thing but stating a fact. Those fans need to face some stiff sanctions themselves or else there will be trouble. There will be trouble because the perception is already out there and the Mayor of Detroit knows this to be factual. Equal justice needs to prevail here.

This shouldn’t be too hard to solve and place blame where it should. The Pistons, Ann Arbor Police and others know who did what and they need start with the jerk who threw the drink. His punishment for being stupid is to have his season tickets revoked. If he got the tickets from a buddy and the buddy is the ticket holder, too bad. That individual goes down with his drunken friend because the friend was representing the ticket holder. Those individuals who threw the popcorn, chair and other stuff as the Pacers were leaving need to also face similar penalties. Basically the way this should work is for the players who were involved get their fines and/or suspensions and the fans who were participants need to be banned from the Palace for the rest of the season. If it sounds harsh it is supposed to. Players know better than to jump in the stands but the fans should also know better not to antagonize players just because your favorite player was in a fight.

It’s an open and shut case folks and the lesson from this should be that fans need to learn restraint before even messing with a pro athlete. You step into their domain, you will get clocked, beaten and bruised. The incident from when two fans jumped the rail during a Chicago White Sox/Kansas City Royals game should be an example of what happens when fans get involved. There was no mercy there in that incident and during the afterglow of Friday, there should be no mercy for those fans and players involved.