Sometimes the ESPN ticker can be misleading. Last night the Indiana Pacers and the Golden St. Warriors got into a so called brawl that spilled into the crowd. During the melee Pacers center Roy Hibbert and Warriors forward David Lee made contact with fans on the sidelines and almost escalated further. On the surface this incident sounds like another horrible episode and a PR nightmare for the NBA, but in reality it was a success story.
I started watching the fight with the anticipation I was going to see the Palace Brawl II. After 10 seconds I was highly irritated. No one threw a punch, everybody looked scared, and the only person with any real fire was little old Steph Curry. Truth be told you would probably see more violence at a Celine Dion concert. These guys would make Screech from Saved by the Bell look tough. Has the NBA really become that soft?
Absolutely. The rules are different, the culture is different, the penalties are severe, and this generation is more passive and collaborative. The players see themselves as co-workers or fraternity brothers as opposed to adversaries or rivals. There is no such thing as "bad blood" and altercations that used to linger for years get squashed over the weekend. In addition, players realize fighting not only hurts them financially, but the impending suspension could cost the team in the long run. No one wants to be the guy that costs their team a championship for fighting.
As much as I would love to see these guys scrap like they did back in the day (imagine Kobe vs. LeBron) I understand the league's non violent policy is for the greater good. Nobody gets hurt and the player's mind set has shifted. Charles Oakley and Xavier McDaniel are not walking out of that locker room!