If you're an NBA fan, you probably remember the brawl between the Indiana Pacers and the Detroit Pistons back in 2004. What happened wasn't an ordinary fight. It was scary. Players were fighting fans. Chairs and other objects were being thrown. People were in danger.
The brawl had real ramifications. It sent the Pacers into a years-long decline, tainting the careers of athletes such as Jermaine O'Neal, who probably deserved better. And it reinforced the unfortunate opinion that the NBA is a league of thugs, and prompted the league to take any even more dictatorial approach to dealing with players on a range of issues, such as dress.
Over at Grantland, Jonathan Abrams has created an oral history of the brawl, interviewing many of the players and coaches and even a few fans who were there that day. The person who comes off the worst is Ron Artest, AKA Metta World Peace, which probably comes as no surprise to anyone who saw the footage of the brawl or has followed his career. His former teammates remain irked about the fact that they supported him even though he incited the brawl, only to see him issue a trade demand the following season. There's a lesson here: Loyalty is all well and good, but it's important to invest your loyalty in people who deserve it. Ron Artest, quite plainly, did not deserve it.
Anyway, the Grantland piece is pretty fascinating, and also kind of sad. Click here to read it.