Brawl shows NBA in sorry state

  Friday night's fiasco in Detroit during the Pistons versus Pacers game is an example of everything that is wrong with professional athletics.
  This kind of unsportsmanlike conduct is a poor example of how fans and professional athletes should react.
  The first bad play award goes to Pacer Ron Artest for his flagrant foul on Ben Wallace, which had become all to familiar on any NBA court.
  The second bad play award goes to Piston and world champion Wallace himself. Instead of taking his foul shots and adding two more points on the board for his team, he selfishly shoves Artest in the face.
  For those who have been in a closet all weekend, after the foul and the return shove, both benches cleared out and a scuffle between the two teams ensued.
  Then, just as the fight was beginning to settle, Artest lays down on the scorer's table, and, to use this word loosely, a "fan" throws his drink bottle and hits Artest.
  Artest jumps into the crowd and punches a guy who was beside the one who threw the bottle.
  Then Pacer Steven Jackson jumps into the crowd with his buddy "to get his back" and helps him beat up every fan he sees in a Piston uniform.
  After other teammates pull Artest and Jackson out of the stand, Artest punches a guy standing on the court who is wearing a Detroit jersey. Then Jermaine O'Neal and Anthony Johnson also need to hit somebody to so they can look big and bad on national television as well.
  When the brawl looks to be over, the Detroit fans shower the Pacer players with popcorn, beer bottles, chairs and whatever else that is throwable as they exit the floor.
  This incident should tell us that the bad attitude that has been displayed by NBA players over the years has finally rubbed off onto the fans. Despite Charles Barkley's arguments over 15 years ago, they are, unfortunately, role models.
  For years now, the fan base of the NBA has been getting thinner and thinner, and this includes myself. Players with this kind of attitude do not represent the NBA or the game of basketball, but after you smear mud on something for so long, it flat out gets dirty.
  Whatever happened to the Bill Russells, Michael Jordans and Larry Birds of the sport? Now it contains punks who would rather promote themselves rather than their teams or the sport itself.
  Remember the Olympics?
  The acts of Artest and Wallace are what started the brawl. Watching ESPN on Friday night, I was shocked to hear how sorry we are supposed to feel for professional athletes because of the constant slander that they must endure. Whatever.
  The blame goes to only the fans for their behavior is the message they we're trying to send across. This is a load. It is high time that all professional athletes realize that their actions have an effect on their fans, young and old.
  Artest, O'Neal, Jackson and Wallace were handed down "indefinite suspensions" on Saturday, although no arrests have been made as of Sunday night.
  Artest was suspended for the rest of the season on Sunday. Nine players from both teams were banned for a total 143 games. Jackson was suspended for 30 games and O'Neal for 25. Wallace has a drew a six-game suspention while Johnson got five games.
  I don't feel that this is enough to curb this from happening again. They will still walk onto the court after the suspensions even more cocky then ever.
  When you are a public figure, such as an athlete, you are going to encounter people who are not your fans, don't like you and would rather spit on you then shake your hand.
  That in no way justifies these guys reactions to the crowd. Every professional, whether it is a plumber or a bank executive, is expected to act like a professional, and not a punk who the world owes because of their ability.
  I feel that any time, NBA, NFL, MLB or any other professional athletic association has a member who acts in this manner and react to crowds in such a violent and vengeful way should be shown the door.
  These players act as if they are irreplaceable. They are not. They should allow people who can act like professionals take their spot until they can show that they can act like adults and handle the responsibility of being in the public eye.
  Oh yes --the crowd, the so-called fans of the sport. I can't forget them, can I? Each and everyone of them that threw one kernel of popcorn should be barred from the arena for life. I have been to many a game and have been upset over the outcome. But there is a thing called restraint and respect for the game. None of these fans displayed that on Friday night.
  What upset me most about the whole ordeal were the young fans who were there watching the game. Should you not be able to take your child to a ball game and not have to worry about flying chairs and beer being sprayed over their heads?
  Did you not see the poor little boy in tears clinging to an adult's leg wondering why his favorite basketball team's court resembled a street fight in Iraq?
  These kids look at athletes as their heroes and they look to other fans as to how to react when their favorite team gets a bad call or loses a game. Whatever happened to the general public being responsible for their mannerism, language and behavior when at public venues?
  It isn't a security issue, it is an attitude issue. I hope we take this incident and learn from it. But the sad thing is, these players will return to the court with their bad attitudes and the fans will return ready to throw a beer bottle to the first player that ticks them off.
  I know I will never have a desire again to go to an NBA game until these types of attitudes have some sort of consequence. These players are not who I want my kid to look up to.
  Thank God we still have college ball. At least they have to worry about losing scholarships if they act that way.
  I know that I will be watching something else besides the Pistons-Pacers rematch that is scheduled for Christmas Day.