David Stern Created Thuggery, Inc.
By Debbie Schlussel
Is it any surprise that NBA player Ron Artest beat up fans in the stands?
It shouldn’t be.
Is it any surprise that NBA Chief David Stern gave him only a season suspension for beating up those fans?
It shouldn’t be.
If you’ve been following the National Basketball Association over the last few years, you shouldn’t be surprised that a player beat up innocent (and not so innocent) fans at an NBA game.
The NBA has become Thuggery, Inc.
And Stern is largely to blame. That’s because Stern recruits kids from the killing fields of America to play for his league. And he looks the other way when inbred street behavior manifests itself in these instant-millionaire SOWMBDs (Sons of “Who-My-Baby-Daddy”). Or worse, he encourages it.
When violence or a hint of violence erupts, Stern sees it not as a bad thing, but as just another notch in the NBA urban, hip-hop marketing campaign – a yet higher level of the street cred Stern and the NBA crave to make their sport more hip-hop in a less hip post-Air Jordan NBA.
Indiana Pacers player Ron Artest should have been banned from the game for life. Anytime a player goes into the stands to physically attack fans, that player should be gone forever. Pete Rose is gone from Major League Baseball for a lot less. But David Stern doesn’t have the guts, doesn’t have the morals, decency, or guts to do so.
Consider Stern’s past record of “discipline”:
In 2000, Allen Iverson—the Philadelphia ‘76ers star whose basketball skills helped him get away with a life of violence that included maiming others—made a rap CD, “Non Fiction,” urging the murder of gays and Black women.
Calling Black women “f---[ing] b----es” and tramps, Iverson urged “Everybody stay fly; Get money, kill and f--- b----es.” His lyrics for gays was equally non-imaginative: “Get murdered in the second and first degree; Come to me with faggot tendencies; You be sleeping where the maggots be.” (I’m sure this hoops-Einstein spent all night trying to find a word that rhymes with “faggot.”)
David Stern’s “discipline”? He got Iverson to “apologize” – sort of. Stern also claimed Iverson agreed to change the lyrics, but USA Today quoted Iverson as saying there would be “no change in the lyrics.” Stern’s October 2000 “Statement on Iverson CD” read like a press release from the Pro-Player Pander Palace.
In 2001, NBA players Allan Houston and Charlie Ward made anti-Semitic comments, a special chutzpah because they played for the New York Knicks, which has a large Jewish clientele.
David Stern’s response: Nothing. Ward apologized and had a brief meeting with a Rabbi. No word on whether he was forced to ingest gefilte fish.
In 2003, Sacramento Kings player Chris Webber–arrested on various drug and alleged rape charges over the years, but each time, escaping with the skin of his teeth—was indicted for lying to a grand jury about illegal loans he took from a shady booster. He pled guilty to a lesser charge when the key witness died suddenly.
Webber was traded to the Kings in the first place because of frequent off-court arrests while a Washington Wizard. One of those, during a 1998 Maryland traffic stop, involved Webber fleeing police, slapping a police officer, refusing to show his driver’s license, and lacking a license plate. In fact, Webber’s Lincoln Navigator had devices to quickly obscure the license plate and was equipped with secret compartments to hide the drugs that were found therein.
Like all suspects caught red-handed, Webber claimed the drugs were left there by a friend. That excuse didn’t work earlier that year when he was fined $500 when marijuana was found in his carry-on bag at an airport in Puerto Rico. Despite all that, he had the gall to sue Fila for dropping him as an endorser pursuant to a morals clause.
David Stern’s actions on any of the above: A big fat capital Zilch.
After all, Chris Webber—who grew up not in the streets, but with two parents and attended Detroit’s fanciest prep-school for the kids of gazillionaires (Detroit Country Day School)—needed to establish his ‘hood-ness.
And wimpy David Stern isn’t about to get in his way.
So, when Ron Artest goes into the stands to fight spectators half his size, David Stern can’t afford to give him the lifetime suspension he deserves for inexcusable violence (regardless of what precipitated it).
Imagine the marketing, the shoes sold, the licensing fees, the sold-out NBA arenas, and the press coverage when Ron Artest enters the basketball court in any market, next season.
Ron Artest, who claims he doesn’t know what the word “integrity” means (he said he needed a dictionary to look up that “big word”), wanted a few months off to promote his new rap CD, a la Allen Iverson. Now, David Stern has not only given him that reward but more publicity than he could have ever hoped for between now and next season.
David Stern is a smart marketer. After looking the other way and condoning violence for years, he isn’t about to forgo the sweet sound of that carefully cultivated cha-ching.
Thuggery sells even better than sex. It’s a slam dunk.