If asked to pinpoint the player who would incite a brawl in the Phoenix Suns-Houston Rockets game on Wednesday night, any sane person who say new Houston Rockets acquisition Ron Artest. But Artest was wary of any backlash from the fight and stayed on the bench, far away from any of the action that ensued on the court.
In an odd turn of events, Steve Nash, by far the least imposing of nearly any player on the court that night, seemed to fuel the brawl. Nash was given a one-game suspension Friday for his part in “escalating” the fight. Nash had to be held back by teammates after he was pushed to the ground by Tracy McGrady.
However, the little man had the diesel on his side and Shaquille O’Neal immediately put McGrady on his back for his indiscretions. Houston’s big man, Yao Ming, chose to play peace maker and removed teammates from the scene.
Other suspensions included Rafer Alston and Matt Barnes, who were given two games for starting the fight. McGrady and O’Neal were also fined $35,000 and $25,000 respectively, for the shoving they did on Wednesday night.
What was lost in all this was the foresight and maturity, or fear, that allowed Artest to stay clear of the battle. He was a key culprit in one of the worst scenes in NBA history. A scene that, no doubt, left a black eye on the league and was followed by the dress code and other measures to assure that the NBA was taking measures to temper such behavior.
Whether his actions were based on fear for his own job and way of life or the knowlege one gains from inciting one of the most notorious brawls in sports history, Artest did that right thing, which can not be said for other superstars involved.