Thursday, January 19, 2006

Antonio Davis

I don't get why Antonio Davis is such a difficult case for David Stern. Yes, there is a rule against going into the stands, and the NBA is conscious of that following the Ron Artest incident. But there has to be some sort of reason to enforce a rule. Two principle possibilities exist. Either A) the conduct itself is morally wrong, bad, or somehow deserves punishment or B) you want to deter the conduct because allowing it can lead to bad effects. I think everyone agrees A doesn't apply. Davis did nothing wrong. He was protecting his wife, and used no violence. Leaving the bench isn't itself inherently bad. Should NBA players be punished if they leave the bench for the stands when a gunman walks onto the court and starts firing? So clearly we have to go to B to justify a large punishment. And I don't see what purpose deterrence in this case serves. It's not like there will be some rash of players running into the stands to protect loved ones. It was an odd instance, not likely to be replicated. Moreover, even if you do punish him stiffly, a player is unlikely to be deterred anyway, given a loved one is in danger. Finally, no one is going to extend a ruling on this to mean you will be treated more lightly for running into the stands to attack someone for any reason. This is clearly distinguishable, and players, arbitrators and fans are smart enough to understand the difference between this and the Artest/Jackson/O'Neal incident. So give him a slap on the wrist, perhaps, but a punishment of more than a fine or 1-2 games is to me fundamentally unjust.


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