Playing the Field: NBA fights create that buzz we miss

Don't ever expect to see coaches hanging from player's legs like we saw with Jeff Van Gundy in the '90s.
Don’t ever expect to see coaches hanging from player’s legs like we saw with Jeff Van Gundy in the ’90s.

 

Many hoops fans complain about how there aren’t any “great buildings” anymore when it comes to making noise, nostalgia and the “big stage” atmosphere. I tend to agree, for the most part. The original Boston Garden is long gone, Chicago Stadium is history, same for the Spectrum in Philly and the Fabulous Forum in Inglewood, Calif. rarely houses sports events these days (you’re more likely to see an American Idol taping there).

College basketball still has some great old barns where it gets loud and you can always feel the history: Cameron Indoor at Duke, “Phog” Allen Fieldhouse at Kansas, Pauley Pavilion at UCLA. Madison Square Garden might be the one arena left in pro basketball where you would pay money just for the atmosphere of the building.

But part of the issue with the lack of “big stage” atmosphere today is the fact that there isn’t nearly the same amount of danger involved in professional sports anymore. You will never in a million years again see an NBA fight as “dangerous” as when Houston Rockets center Ralph Sampson decked Celtics guard Jerry Sichting in the 1986 NBA Finals. The fight spilled into the stands and nearly every member of the Celtics and Rockets got involved. Maybe it’s the grainy, dark, ’80s-style video that helps – but you get the sense that you’re watching a horror movie, not a basketball game, when watching that tape.

Today, the NBA likely has a team of 76 people or so in their New York offices that scour the internet daily for traces of “Basket-brawl” videos … all documented footage is immediately ripped down – those guys are good.

The Ron Artest brawl at the Palace of Auburn Hills (click here for video while you still can) of course changed the game. Now, if two players even look at each other crosseyed there is a chance both will be ejected. It has taken away a lot of the physicality in the game, particularly under the boards, but we all understand now that it had to be done. When fans are getting decked in the face (like in the Artest melee), there has to be new order.

Obviously, things can still escalate in the league. Last night we saw Roy Hibbert of the Pacers and David Lee of the Warriors “go at it.” Not one true punch was thrown but it was still a bit frightening to see players so close to the fans with tempers reaching that level.

Last November I was in the house for the Kris Humphries-Rajon Rondo tussle that ended up in the first three rows behind the basket. While the TD Garden has absolutely nothing on the original Garden in terms of atmosphere, the place had that “big stage” buzz you read about. I was 100 percent certain that some fool would throw a beer on Humphries as he walked towards the tunnel back to the lockerroom. But it didn’t happen.

I’ll admit, there was a small, evil part of me that was disappointed that it didn’t go down. I wanted to relish just a few more seconds of that atmosphere, that buzz that you can only get when things get a little dangerous. Then, just about a minute after Humphries left the floor, everyone’s right mind took over and we all agreed that we were happy the days of 24-man brawls were over.

Matt Burke is sports editor and a columnist at Metro Boston. Follow him on Twitter @BurkeMetroBOS


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

What New Yorkers need to know about the…

A measles outbreak in New York City has spread further, the health department said Wednesday.

Local

Bloomberg launches $50 million anti-gun violence effort

Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg plans to spend $50 million on a grassroots anti-gun violence network to challenge the National Rifle Association.

Local

East Village woman fights off rape attempt from…

An East Village woman fought off an attempted rapist that she woke to find standing on her bed over the weekend, police said.

International

Nearly 300 missing after South Korean ferry capsizes

Almost 300 people were missing after a ferry capsized off South Korea Wednesday, in what could be the country's biggest maritime disaster in over 20 years.

The Word

Paul Walker's brothers will replace him in 'Fast…

Ever since a car crash took Paul Walker's life, fans have wondered what the "Fast & Furious" franchise would do without one of its most beloved stars.

Television

'Orphan Black's' Jordan Gavaris talks Felix's Season 2…

Jordan Gavaris plays heroically helpful foster sibling Felix to main clone Sarah on "Orphan Black." We talked to him about what’s ahead for him in…

Going Out

Accomplice Tour: New York (Spoiler Alert)

When I signed up for the Accomplice show tour, I had no idea what I was in for. But every grimy job comes with a great reward.

Television

TV watch list, Tuesday, April 15: 'New Girl,'…

'New Girl' Nick and Jess are hiding their breakup from the other loft residents. And Winston passes the police academy exam! That guy needed some…

NHL

Top 5 Philadelphia storylines for Flyers-Rangers

The slate is clean for the Flyers and the Rangers. Which is good news for the Flyers.

NFL

Jets confident despite Chris Johnson leaving with no…

Jets fans clamored for a playmaker on offense all offseason. It looked like they were going to land that player on Tuesday when Chris Johnson…

NBA

Knicks, Nets rivalry never materialized despite national attention

When the NBA schedule was released, the league anticipated an intense rivalry between the Nets and Knicks with all four games slated for national TV.

NBA

NBA Power Rankings: Are the Spurs frauds? Could…

NBA Power Rankings: Are the Spurs frauds? Could the Mavericks surprise?

Wellbeing

Could a facelift give you the edge at…

It's not just women lining up for procedures.

Home

Steal home decorating tips from Nattystyle blogger Natalie…

Despite the towering ceilings and enviable exposed brick, it’s easy to see how Natalie Decleve’s apartment could be considered a challenge. Perched above the streets…

Home

How to plant a garden in the city

Small on space but big on gardening? You can still have that welcoming oasis of fresh air with an urban garden. Peter Smith, owner of…

Style

Personalize your massage at a private practice

CityTouch customizes spa treatments to meet client's needs.