I've Got Jack Johnson and Tom O'Leary Waiting For You, Right Here
In recent days, some loyal readers have asked The OCC to weigh in on the Knicks-Nuggets brawl. This task has proved moderately difficult for a couple of reasons:
1) Pretty much every pundit, lummox, genius, dork, dickhead and dweebie has spoken out on the matter already;
2) I don’t really care all that much.
And perhaps Item #2 is really at the heart of what I want to say about this fight.
But before you misunderstand that statement, let me clarify: It’s not that I truly don’t care that there was a fight between the Knicks and the Nuggets that resulted in a huge uproar and multiple lengthy suspensions. It’s more just that I don’t really see what the huge uproar is all about.
To drop a little Passover phraseology on you all, Why is this fight different from every other fight?
Sure, there were lots of players involved, and some of the fracas spilled over into the stands, bringing the conflict too close to fans, which obviously isn’t a good thing. But otherwise, what really happened here that made this so terrible?
The fact is this: Anyone who has ever played a competitive sport knows that sports often bring out a competitive, angry and hostile side in even the most mild-mannered people.
I am by all accounts not a hothead – in fact, some would probably say I have a tendency to stray way too far in the opposite direction – but during my days as an intramural baller at a certain collegiate institution, I developed a reputation as something of a shit-talking idiot.
On one occasion, during a particularly heated game between my team and a team consisting primarily of football players, I hit a three and promptly – for reasons I cannot quite explain – told the guy who was guarding me, “That was for your mom.”Needless to say, he was not pleased about this. And it’s a small miracle he didn’t do some jujitsu on my face.
Another example (warning: thinly-veiled name dropping alert): I also used to play intramurals against John Krasinski, best known as Jim Halpert from the American version of The Office. John, like me, was a perfectly nice guy off the basketball court, but when he got on the court, he inexplicably turned into a giant dickhead.
And I honestly can’t recall one time I played basketball against him that he and I didn’t start jawing/yelling at one another. I also can’t recall a single time that he or I didn’t shake hands or reconcile soon afterwards.
The point of all of this is that competitive sports are an incubator for angry and irrational behavior. Things get heated up, normally calm people get angry, and sometimes this escalates into verbal or physical conflict.
This shouldn’t be shocking to anyone who’s ever played sports.
So why is this brawl so shocking to America? Why is this such a huge deal?
And this is not to say I can’t see this from the disciplinarian side – I understand why the suspensions had to be so severe. The NBA needs to avoid having this happen as much as possible.
But the NBA doesn’t need to try to shut down brawling because the behavior itself is so horrendous or incomprehensible.
The NBA needs to try to shut it down because its viewing public is so horrendously conservative that it can’t understand or tolerate the notion of such “uncivilized” behavior in sports.
So when I say I don’t care, it's not really that I don't care – it' s more that I can't get on board with the predominant, disapproving opinion of the masses who are distancing themselves from the players who fought as if they were displaying some kind of inhuman characteristic out there on the court. That's nonsense.
People get mad, people fight. It's as likely to happen in sports as it is anywhere else. Should it be a punishable offense? Of course. But otherwise, there's really one way to properly handle such an event:
Get over it.