Sunday, April 17, 2011

I've Got a Basketball Jones

It's that magical time of the year again, the NBA playoffs! As a long time "casual" Miami Heat fan I have to admit that I haven't had this much interest in the post-season for quite a few years. While the more violent NHL playoffs are overshadowed by the more popular NBA playoffs the next handful of weeks, the sports fight enthusiast is bound to get at least a taste of some scuffles in basketball within the next few days.

In Miami's last stretch of games leading to the post-season, I've noticed something off with my boy Big Z, Zydrunas Ilgauskas, he's been fiery under the collar. The normally quiet, Lithuanian, "soft" center, known for reading military fiction novels in the locker room, has inexplicably morphed into an enforcer type player. After an errant elbow against the Wizards, Z got into an admittedly hilarious scuffle with the 15 years his younger, 11 inches his shorter John Wall.
About a week later he was at it again; getting fired up and pegging an opposing player in the back with a basketball, dodge-ball style

What makes fights and scuffles so interesting in the NBA is the relatively more intimate nature of the sport for TV viewers. No faces are obscured by helmets or hats and cameras are able to move in close on the hardwood. NBA is also a game of superstars and personalities. As much as it advertised as a team sport, a single player such as Lebron, Wade, Kobe or D-Rose can take complete control of a game in the final minutes or any span for that matter. Being a limited-contact sport, fights happen infrequently. When a fight does breaks out though, one can see the emotion, anger and sometimes the attempted restraint of those emotions by the participants. Hockey fights on the other hand , which happen statistically almost every other game, boil down to two helmeted and padded thugs attempting to knock out whatever teeth the other has left. They happen so often that fans, while still excited for the spectacle, become desensitized to the violence.

If anyone remembers "The Malice at the Palace", sometimes basketball fights can get a bit too personal.

This fan is basically wearing the default facial expression anyone would have while in line of fire of a charging Ron Artest.


  1. There have been so close calls in basketball over the years, Artest's 'Malice in the Palace' being a main one, but they are so eye-opening because of the decreased physical aspect of basketball these days. With shot clock changes, three pointers, stricter charging rules, three seconds in the paint calls, and the like all of these changes have been installed to help the players avoid physical confrontation with one another. However, there are always players that take the physicality of the game to the next level (Shaq, Big Baby Davis, Dwight, to name a few) but they always try and keep the physicality on the court. These after the whistle shoving matches are pathetic and detrimental to the game. No one wants to see an actual fight between John Wall and The Big Z, because going by the 'tale of the tape', it would not be a fair fight. Also losing your cool like this in a game is frown upon on a stage like the NBA and strict actions have been taken to prevent this ludicrous behavior. Overall, fighting in sports is looked down upon (except in the great sport of hockey) because it is not an essential part of the game and instead shows over-sized men going completely rogue and wailing on each other like bullies in Middle School. Let's keep the boxing for the boxers and hockey players please.

  2. Even though fighting in sports is frowned upon, it's very entertaining because it demonstrates how competitive these athletes are, and the emotions that these players show just how personally they take a foul. Take a look at the Cortland Finnegan and Andre Johnson fight for instance:
    Andre Johnson is normally a quiet, passive person, but in the heat of the moment even he can be provoked to violence.

  3. When I see players confronting fans i feel conflicted because i do believe they have to be held to a higher standard but that does not mean they are not real people and have the same emotions as everyone else. I dont think its fair that they have to put up with people cursing them and saying terrible things about them just because they play on the opposing team. Being in the public eye does mean you are open to criticism but that doesnt mean you have to stand by and take it. again, that doesnt mean go charging into the stands to punch some douchebag who threw something at you.


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