But it was not meant to be. Sure the NBA is receiving more attention than ever before, but for all the wrong reasons. Inquiring (or brainless) minds are the ones watching the NBA now, hoping to see another hard foul, another fight, another brawl in the stands.
What happened on Friday Nov. 19, 2004 was not good for the game of basketball or for professional sports. What happened on Nov. 19, 2004 was what owners, fans, coaches, commissioners and players have been worried about and fearing for years. Ever since that crazy father-son combo charged a Kansas City Royals first base coach, I had a feeling something terrible was going to happen. Don’t misinterpret me, I’m not claiming to be the only person who thought Pandora’s box was opened, but I am claiming to be an ordinary sports fan who feared for the safety of professional athletes.
Little did I know that it would be the fans whose safety I should have feared for.
When I first saw the brawl, about an hour after it happened, I was a little amused. I didn’t realize the extent of the fight, or the severity. I thought it was funny that a fan had hit Ron Artest with a drink and that he had blown up in response. But now, after seeing countless angles and slow-motion replays, I can say without hesitation that Ron Artest and Stephen Jackson are monsters. I don’t care how many drinks they were hit with, how many rude comments were made about their mothers or their sisters or their wives. There is no excuse for punching a fan in the face. There is no excuse for a six foot seven inch, 250 pound man to tackle any spectator.
Ron Artest deserved his 73 game suspension. In fact, he probably deserved more. Based on recent reports, he may have a criminal record and even fines or jailtime added to his punishment. Have you ever heard the expression “turn the other cheek”? Artest clearly has not. Neither has Stephen Jackson. The amazing thing about Jackson’s story is that no one taunted him and no one hit him with a drink. He just saw Artest jump into the stands, and he felt the need to follow. He got only 30 games for an unprovoked attack on innocent fans. If this isn’t the act of a monster, then I don’t know what is.
A girl’s best friend
On Saturday, Boston College had a chance to leave an immense and historic mark on the Big East Conference. On its way to the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) next year, the BC football team had a final opportunity to win the Big East championship outright and earn a trip to a Bowl Championship Series (BCS) game.
Unfortunately, the Syracuse Orangemen, a 5-5 team entering the game, upset the Eagles, knocking them out of BCS contention and into the Continental Bowl. The lost revenue was clearly a disappointment, but the biggest disappointment had to be losing their last game as a member of the Big East.
Although they clearly got outplayed by Syracuse, BC really got beat by one player: Diamond Ferri. Ferri, a senior strong safety, ran for over 4000 yards in his high school career at Everett High School, just outside of Boston. He entered Syracuse as a running back before joining the defensive unit as a junior when the coaching staff decided they needed to take advantage of his athletic ability and nose for the football. As a senior, he stepped up his play and became the defensive leader of the Orangemen.
Entering the game against BC, the former running back had only one rush attempt on the season. Ferri hardly seemed ready to erupt for 141 yards and two touchdowns on 28 carries. But when both of Syracuse’s 800-yard rushers went down with injuries, Ferri was forced into action. His performance, one of the greatest I’ve ever witnessed on television, will not soon be forgotten by anyone in the Boston College or Syracuse communities.
Not only was his unexpected running impressive, but he also played as usual on defense, recording a touchdown on an interception return. Rarely does a college football player on any level play both ways, and when one does, it is usually as a third or fourth wide-receiver. I have never heard of a player playing almost every play on defense and then jumping in on offense to carry the ball 28 times.
Ferri deserves all the national recognition he received for this performance. It will definitely go down as one of the most memorable performances in my college football memory bank.