04.25.06

Artest : The NBA’s Gone Soft

Posted in Basketball at 10:21 am by

The Kings’ suspended Ron Artest, making more sense than Stu Jackson. From the Sacramento Bee’s Sam Amick.

“They’re changing the game from how it was back in the days, back when the game was really hardcore. The game was so hardcore back when Larry Bird played and Bill Walton and those guys. Those guys were playing hard. Larry Bird, Michael Jordan, the Detroit Pistons. Those guys were playing flat-out hard and aggressive. And now, it’s like they’re changing the game. It’s a new game. All the records that everybody’s setting, like LeBron James and all these new stars, they’re very good, but it’s not like it was back in the day. All the scoring titles and everything; it’s easier to score now. The whole game is so soft now.”

Q: Do you think things like the brawl last year have sped up the league’s shift towards tightening up things?

A: The game’s changed a lot. You’ve got to adjust to the softer game now. It’s very soft, but it’s hard to understand what they’re trying to accomplish with the changes in the game. I was watching a game on ESPN Classic today, and guys are fighting each other and stuff. Nobody got kicked out. That’s a long time ago. And this is just a minor, minor, minor incident, and they could’ve given me a flagrant one and a fine, but they want to take a whole game. It’s very disappointing.

If it was a foul, then, yeah, it’s cool. But it wasn’t like I threw an elbow at him, and the referees were right there. I didn’t throw no elbow. I spoke to Stu Jackson, and he told me he did it because of all my other problems that I had throughout my career.

The Bee’s Ailene Voison takes the matter up with the NBA’s dean of discipline.

“There was no flagrant foul,” league vice president Stu Jackson (above) explained from his office in Manhattan. “This is a ‘contact’ rule. The action we’re taking is because of the fact Ron made contact with Manu Ginobili’s head. While the contact was not severe, it was a potentially dangerous play. And the fact he is a recidivist was taken into account.”

Recidivist?

Jackson threw me on that one.

Thus, the suspicion lingers. What if Bruce Bowen had taken that shot Saturday night? If Mike Bibby had been the King swinging his arm? Would they have received the same sentence? Maybe yes. Maybe no.

“Mike Bibby would have been suspended,” Jackson insisted, only to reiterate his previous comments. The penalty fits the crime, he says, because the culprit is Ron Artest.

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