Friday, January 20, 2006

Another NBA player "stands" up

So, another NBA player went into the stands.

This time, it didn't accompany a brawl.

NY Knicks forward Antonio Davis was suspended for 5 games for going into the crowd after witnessing his wife being involved in an altercation with another spectator. This is a bizarre example of how far the NBA will go to prove a point. This time, a player will feel the league's wrath simply for trying to protect his family. Crazy, huh?

According to new league rules (stemming from last year's "Malice in the Palace" between the Indiana Pacers and the Detroit Pistons), any player who leaves the court to enter the stands for any reason will be subject to punishment. Apparently, protecting one's family is included.

The truth is: I don't know what happened. On the one hand, some folks say that the spector was hassling Davis' wife. Others say that she instigated the event (incidentally, the guy is planning on suing the Davis family. You figure it out...). All I know is there was conflict, which Davis saw and, as a result, tried to do whatever he could to keep his wife safe.

I know that the league has to keep their rules. They can't and shouldn't bend them for anyone. But, let's keep it real here. The expectation that a player will stay on the court if his family is being attacked is not only unrealistic, but it's also irresponsible on the league's part. Changes need to be made.

For one, how about more security? With spectors literally feet away from the players, having additional security wouldn't hurt. Secondly, how about isolating the players' families in one area. That way, incidents like this won't happen. We all know that in hostile sports environments, it's not just the players who get the harassment, but the families as well. Finally, the league needs to modify their rules to punish based on the level of severity. Antonio Davis threw no punches, made no assaults, or caused no scenes. There's no way you can convince me that a 5 game suspension (resulting in about $625,000 lost in salary) was reasonable punishment for going into the stands simply to protect your family...especially when security was asleep on the job.

The NBA's attempts to clean up its image is only hurting it more.


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