Wednesday, December 08, 2004

From one court to another

Last month, Banshee Blog reported on the wild brawl that broke out on November 19, 2004. The brawl took place at the end of the Pacers-Pistons basketball game in Auburn Hills, Michigan. This incident was unique because it included both players and fans.

(AFP/Getty Images)

The NBA acted quickly and handed out serious suspensions to the players involved. But the repercussions do not end there. Today, Oakland County prosecutors announced that criminal charges will be filed against both players and fans. Five Indiana Pacers, including all-stars Ron Artest and Jermaine O'Neal, are now facing misdemeanor assault charges. Several fans were also charged with assault, including Detroit Piston Ben Wallace's brother. One fan named Bryant Jackson was also charged with a felony for throwing a chair into the melee.

(AP Photo/Duane Burleson)

Overall, I am quite pleased with the way this incident has been handled by both the NBA and prosecutors. I am not a big proponent of bringing the judicial system onto fields of play. I do not think that the occasional cheap shot between players should be treated as a criminal event even though that same action would rise to the level of an assault if it occurred a sidewalk. However, this incident involved fans. That is whole different matter. In this situation, you are no longer dealing with individuals who have all chosen to engage in an activity with a foreseeable level of violence.