This article was enough to wake me out of my blogging slumber. In it, Chris McClosky states that the Pistons don't consider the Pacers rivals anymore. Well, of course they don't. And it has nothing to do with Ben Wallace and Ron Artest not being there. It has to do with the Pistons doing quite well since the Brawl and the Pacers . . . pretty much sucking.
What I take issue with in McClosky's article is this:
Still, the Pistons know they will be stepping into a hostile environment tonight. They know they have been scapegoated by Pacer Nation. Everything that's gone wrong the past couple of years, in their eyes, has been directly attributable to the Pistons.
He just doesn't get it. If Pacer fans hate the Pistons, it must be scapegoating, right? There couldn't be, you know, like a real reason. Is there some scapegoating? Sure. Do some Pacer fans blame the Pistons for everything that's gone wrong with the team. Probably. But this makes it seem like the Pacer fans are have no reason for their hate for the Piston organization. Oh, we have one big reason to hate them.
Let's review the Brawl. Clearly mutual responsibility . I'm not saying the Pacers players weren't stupid for doing what they did. I'm not saying it was OK for Artest to go in the stands or Jackson to follow him, etc., etc.. But, the Piston fans and organization share a very large share of the blame. And, it wasn't just a few "bad apples." It was a whole bunch of them that turned this into a riot. We had the initial cup thrower. The guy throwing cheap shots at the back of a players head after Artest went in the stands. A guy throwing a chair. Guys running on the court to attack the players (guys who got what they deserved, by the way). And lots and lots of beer thrown at the players as they left the stands. Go listen to John Saunders and the rest of the ESPN crew's comments immediately after the incident. They sure knew who should bear the brunt of the blame
Again, the Pacers were not innocent bystanders. The leage can't punish the fans and refused to punish the Piston organization. So they punished the only people they could punish, the Pacer players, and they came down hard. Recall who won that game on 11/19/04: the Pacers. In my opinion, we were the best team in the league that year. The Brawl absolutely destroyed our team and it devastated our fans.
What price did the Pistons pay for the Brawl? Hardly anything. In fact, their fans and organization actually benefited from the Brawl, didn't they? It sure resulted in a knock out blow to the Pacers, their main rival. So much so, that, according to McClosky, this isn't even a rivalry anymore.
The Brawl should have been a bad outcome for both teams. Instead the Pacers were the big losers and Detroit benefited. And that, Mr. McClosky, explains why we are still bitter.