As a player who threw his share of elbows and wound up in a number of fights in my ten year NBA career, the most interesting and futile being the one I against Wilt Chamberlain, I was, none-the-less, sickened by Ron Artest's (Let's no longer call him Peace) vicious elbow to the head of James Hardin, a blow that seemed entirely random and unnecessary.
However, as much as I found such brutality repulsive, I found myself, as I watched ad infinatum replays of the incident, becoming more and more offended by the passivity of the Oklahoma Thunder players immediately following the attack.
Okay, Meschery, take a deep breath and stop pretending it's the Sixites, a time in the NBA in which players would have flown to the defense of their fallen teammate, unlike the Thunder who merely stood around, glaring and exhaling a lot of hot air.
Perhaps today's players are a different breed. Perhaps this is a different league, a kinder gentler one. Perhaps back in our day, we didn't have that much to lose financially that it didn't matter if we swung a punch or two to defend a fallen teammate, or perhaps the League understood the need for a player or players acting in self-defense, or perhaps we lived by a different code of honor?
I know in my heart that if anyone had hit me the way Artest brutally and intentionally hit Harden, our Warrior bench would have cleared to come to my defense, but by then it would have been too late because Al Attles would have torn the dude's head off. After such dust cleared, I'm not sure what action the League back then would have taken. Probably not much. That's the way it was; we took care of our own.
As I am writing this, I am already apologizing to mothers and fathers of future athletes. There is so much violence in the world, that it is difficult to justify it in sports. And I know it is difficult to pick and chose which act of violence needs retribution, but all one has to do is look at replays of the Artest elbow, the way it was maliciously aimed and the frightening look on Artest's face to know that the players on the Thunder needed to do more. It seems that the "more" I'm suggesting, the Old Testament Eye for an Eye solution, is impossible in today's game, but it would sure have been satisfying to teach that bully a lesson.
Harden claims he is feeling fine. Perhaps, perhaps not. We will see once the playoffs begin. And I hope he doesn't take another blow to the head which could happen inadvertently as basketball is, indeed, a contact sport.
The commissioner of the NBA wagged a Stern finger and suspended Artest for seven games. Only seven games for an act that could have ended Hardin's career? I do not believe a longer suspension will solve Artest's brand of misdirected explosive violence, but suspending him from the playoffs might limit the damage he could inflict on other unsuspecting players. The playoffs are a pumped up time, a dangerous time to test Artest's ability to control himself.
I do not believe this is a kinder and gentler time in history nor is it, in my opinion, a kinder and gentler time in sports.
Let's not forget Andrew Bynum's cowardly attack on little JJ Barea and the recent headhunting scandal going on in the NFL. So as I write about violence, I offer this terrifying poem by the great American poet James Wright
Autumn Begins in Martins Ferry, Ohio
In the Shreve High Football stadium,
I think of Polacks nursing long beers in Tiltonsville,
And gray faces of Negroes in the blast furnace at Benwood,
And the ruptured night watchman of Wheeling Steel,
Dreaming of heroes.
All the proud fathers are ashamed to go home,
Their women cluck like starved pullets,
Dying for love.
Their sons grow suicidally beautiful
At the beginning of October,
And gallop terribly against each other's bodies.
What my musings are all about...
Blogging might well be the 21st century's form of journaling. As a writing teacher, I have always advised my students to keep a daily journal as a way of organizing their thoughts for future writing projects, a discipline I have unfortunately never consistently practiced myself. By blogging, I might finally be able to follow my own good advice.
The difference between journaling and blogging is that the blogger opens his or her writing to the public, something journal- writers are usually reluctant to do. I am not so reticent.
The trick for me will be to avoid cluttering the internet with more blather, something none of us need more of. If I stick to subjects I know: sports and literature, I believe I can avoid that pitfall. I can't promise that I'll not stray from time to time to comment on ancillary subjects, but I will make every attempt to be interesting and perhaps even insightful.