In the National Basketball Association there are league rules that try to control the behavior of the teams, players, coaches and administration.
What is the going rate for ridicule in the NBA? If you are the Sacramento Kings, the price is $30,000. 


The problem started on November 8, 2005 when the Sacramento Kings
played host to the Detroit Pistons and when the Pistons were introduced
at Arco Arena, the scoreboard displayed images of abandoned buildings,
junk piles, abandoned cars and other hardcore images of the rough urban
life found in Detroit.

The Pistons were immediately offended and the Kings apologized before
the home opener was over. The Pistons accepted the apology and a few
days later the Kings took out a full page ad in the hometown newspapers
for Detroit and Sacramento to apologize for their lack of taste in
showing stereotypical images of Detroit.
On November 14, the NBA fined the Kings $30,000 for “showing derogatory
images of Detroit” in violation of an NBA policy that prohibits
“ridiculing of opponents or game officials… via PA announcements,
video, or matrix displays, music or mascot skits.”

Is it “ridicule”
if you show images of Detroit that may be real but in bad taste?
Should having bad taste and then immediately apologizing for it be a
finable offense?
Why is an apology that was accepted by the offended not enough to bury
an issue?
What good does a $30,000 NBA league fine do to change a Detroit reality
that some may not appreciate?
Here are some previous NBA fines against teams as reported by the Sacramento Bee. Is what the Kings did as inappropriate as these examples?

Jan. 30, 2004: Utah Jazz personnel perform a skit that
made fun of Los Angeles Lakers teammates Kobe Bryant and Karl Malone. A
mock phone call over the loudspeakers was answered by team mascot
“Bear.” A voice, identifying himself as “Mail” said he wanted to come
“home” to Utah and that Lakers fans were “mean.”

The skit concluded
with the impersonated voice saying, “I guess it could be worse. I could
be Ko …” stopping short of saying Kobe, who was currently being tried
for rape in Colorado. The Jazz was fined $15,000. 

April 24, 2004: Before Game 3 of a second-round playoff series
between the Kings and Dallas Mavericks, a video at American Airlines
Center showed a cartoon that had a Shaquille O’Neal-like image calling
the Kings the “Queens.” There also was an image of Doug Christie on all
fours on a short leash held by his wife Jackie, and a cartoon image of
Chris Webber explaining why he attended the University of Michigan –
blurting, “Money, money, money!” The Mavericks were fined $25,000.

During the two games we saw in Sacramento, the Kings’ mascot — a
riotous and silly lion named Slamson — would point at and tease
players from both teams on the court and play around with the referees
as well. Is that behavior appropriate to the game? Is the hilarious and
beloved-by-children Slamson “ridiculing opponents” and “game officials”
via “mascot skits” — or is some teasing and fun still allowed in the
NBA as long as it’s done by an unknown performer in a furry lion
suit?

The NBA is all about making money and provocative images of Detroit —
even if true and accurate — does not serve their overall league
objective for mainstream, filtered and polished entertainment. Is it
possible, however, to go too far and take the fun and rivalry out of a
game that runs best on hometown bravado and street sweat and perceived
superiority by personality?

At what point do all NBA teams become alike
and the only difference between Sacramento and Detroit is the city name
stitched to the players’ jerseys? Or are we already in the realm of
pabulum and the safe and these NBA league fines are merely methods to
continue to administer the bland and the oblique as a sedative for
those who pay to sit in the seats without playing for the
entertainment?

8 Comments

  1. Hello Dave!
    I understand your argument and it makes sense. I guess I sometimes long for the days when being Politically Correct had no meaning or point of reference or pointed attack for behavior correction. Bad taste never hurt anyone, let alone an entire city, but I understand there’s money to be made in the-middle-of-the-road even though that path is wasting bare with fines against taste and parent-figure pat-on-the-heads for tucking in your shirt and spitting on your shoes for a shine and not in your opponent’s face.
    I miss the old days of the Oakland Raiders football team where they’d beat opponents based solely on where they were coming from and not just on performance on the field.
    Current Nebraska football coach Bill Callahan — and former Oakland Raiders coach when the team was already numbed down to a mainstream mentality by the NFL — called the Oklahoma Sooners football fans “hillbillies” after a punishing game where his team was attacked walking off the field and he was roundly creamed for that comment in both the Nebraska and Oklahoma press even though a group that roots for the Oklahoma teams is called the “Hillbillies.”
    This reminds me of the GEICO Insurance commercial where a commercial spot is being filmed and the actor in the commercial within a commercial says getting a policy is so easy, “Even a Caveman could do it” and the two Cavemen working on the commercial in the commercial drop their stuff on the ground and walk out in protest.
    If the NBA made that GEICO commercial, I’m sure they would have fined GEICO for their bad taste and insensitive behavior.

  2. Yes, Dave, I agree we’re old goats! :mrgreen:
    I agree with you and Sacramento and Detroit that what the Kings did was in bad taste. They admitted their error. They apologized. The apology was accepted by the insulted Detroit team.
    It should be over.
    I do not agree with the NBA then stepping in after everything was resolved and handing down a $30,000 fine to pile on a politically correct message. It’s just too over-the-top to be anything other than a “me too” poke in the eye for the Kings from the NBA.
    Email me your commercial idea! I’d love to hear about it!

  3. I don’t think any sports governing body should fine any team for “offensive” behavior as long as they allow names that some Native Americans find offensive. I don’t follow basketball, so I don’t know if there are any teams with those sorts of names.
    I’m also not saying I advocated renaming teams with Native American connotations; however, it’s sort of hypocritical to fine a team/player/coach for offensive behavior when you continue to allow an organization referred to with a term that part of a minority finds damaging.

  4. Good point about the cheapening of sport and, in turn, the dumbing down of American Culture to go along with the new degradation of empathy and the siphoning off of successful social interaction.
    I love the idea of the $30,000 fine actually going to help rebuild Detroit! Now there’s a fine worth pursuing!

  5. My great grandmother was full blood Cherokee Indian, and I find nothing offensive about any team with a Indian name. Seems to me its much a do about nothing. Names such as Brave, Indians, Warriors, Chiefs Redskins or whatever, does not seem like one bit of put down nor disrespect to the American Indians. Am I missing something?
    The actions of professional sports and college sports athletics in this country have been on a course of loosing all respect for the last several years, maybe they are just trying to tighten the reins just a bit before they get completely out of control, hopeful they are not to late.
    I remember my high school football coach telling our backfield back in the early 60’s, if you ever cross that goal line for a touchdown, you had better act like you have been there before, for if you celebrate, the very next week I will give you plenty of time to reminisce about it while running 20, 100 yard wind sprints, after everyone else has gone in for their shower at the end of practice, I feel assure after a week of this, the next time you cross the goal line, you will act completely like you have been there before.
    In those day’s, everyone treated everyone else with respect, do they now days?
    May God Bless,
    Jerry

  6. I find it interesting that people will often be “offensive” in private, when they would never be that way in public.
    It doesn’t have to be just guys in the locker room.
    I’ve probably heard more “offensive” comments from women I’ve known over my lifetime than men. Of course, I work in an office that is majority female and attended a college and majored in a subject that was primarily female. This might have given me the inside view that more “balanced” situations might not have provided. I’m sure my viewpoint would be different if I was working in a steel mill with guys who had been in the union for 30-plus years.
    I’ve been in situations where I was the only guy in the room, and a group of women would be talking about things that I would be afraid to mention for fear of getting into trouble or offending someone.
    Of course, I was not offended by anything the women were saying and thought it gave me some insight into what they really think about certain topics. It also made me realize that there aren’t that many differences between men and women. There are common themes that affect all of humanity, regardless of gender or race.
    Maybe being “real” and not worrying about offending someone is a good thing at certain times. It makes people realize everyone has similarities.
    I wonder if the clamp down on public “offensiveness” makes for more private “offensiveness?”
    Or, have years of dull and bland political correctness caused things that aren’t really offensive to seem offensive?