On Christmas, a day in which wars have been put on hold and even Kobe and Shaq bear hugged on national TV, LA Lakers fans decided to throw their foam fingers and water bottles onto the court during a blowout loss to Cleveland. Maybe it was Los Angeles’s unique way of giving back.
More than likely though, it’s part of the deterioration of any sort of sportsmanship between the fans, players and coaches. This past holiday inspired some serious “bah humbug” moments by supposed grown-ups. Here’s a teenager’s recap of that day in sports.
11:00 A.M. My alarm goes off “early.” Hey, I’m 17 and stay up late playing XBOX Live and Call of Duty during winter break.
1:30 P.M. I check ESPN. Stan Van Gundy doesn’t want games on Christmas anymore. Stan, last time I checked, your third best player, Rashard Lewis, makes $200,583.79 for suiting up on December 25. That’s an awful lot of Christmas presents for anyone.
End of 3rd Quarter of Lakers-Cavs Game. During ABC’s customary end of quarter interviews, the “Zen Master,” Phil Jackson, is avoiding fines from the NBA by talking in code about how poor the officiating is. At least one guy wants his full game salary to spend on some Christmas presents.
6:37 P.M. Manny Pacquiao (a big basketball fan by the way) is filing a defamation of character suit against Floyd Mayweather Jr. after his crew accused “Pacman” of using performance-enhancing drugs. This one sounds oddly familiar. Anyway, what a lovely story. Both sides are trying to bring John McCain in to come up with a compromise, because he doesn’t have anything else to do in the Senate.
4th Quarter of Lakers-Cavs Game. Kobe Bryant is crying like a seven-year-old who just received the wrong action figure from Santa. Lamar Odom has been thrown out; Ron Artest fouled out, and Derek Fisher is throwing elbows at every Cavalier within range.
A few minutes later in Lakers-Cavs Game. Fans are throwing foam fingers all over the court. As Mike Breen so aptly pointed out, “at least it’s only foam and not something that could hurt the players.” Should we really be thankful for that? How about if the fans don’t throw anything? But wait, it gets worse…
Yet Another Bad Call. Looks like Mike Breen spoke too soon, because water bottles are now on the court. The foam fingers continue to fly as well. Imagine if one of those bottles had made contact with Lebron James or Kobe Bryant. We could’ve seen part deux of the “Ron Artest vs. All” battle, or Cleveland would’ve sent Anderson Varejao into the stands so he could live up to his “Sideshow Bob” nickname.
Bryant has reverted to the popular kid in high school who, when he doesn’t get his way, has a temper tantrum and riles up the fans. Don’t get me wrong, I think Bryant is the best player in basketball, but jeez, he has a major influence on the Lakers community. What happened to booing after a bad call?
I understand how competitive games are. I understand why Pacquiao feels the need to retaliate in his war of words. That still doesn’t make either scenario right. The refs in the Lakers-Cavs game were terrible, and that’s coming from an unbiased observer. Still, no one deserves the treatment those referees got from LA’s fan base.
I ref girls and boys basketball and have heard the complaints from angry parents when I don’t call a travel on a first-grade girl who couldn’t tell me the difference between an assist and a rebound. So I know (on a much lesser scale) what officials go through. Professional sports nowadays are just as much about who is getting a technical foul, or who is cheating on their spouse as they are about who is winning the game.
The NBA schedules five games on Christmas day because they’ve got a captive audience, ready to kick back and relax. Instead, that audience was greeted to foam fingers flying towards the court on a night where two of the NBA’s biggest superstars were supposed to show off their godly skills while maintaining their much-publicized friendship.
Fans had an impulse to throw whatever was in their possession at NBA players, just like little kids have the urge to start a food fight after someone throws their PB&J sandwich at someone’s head.
Mike Breen said that fans in the crowd were pointing out the perpetrators throwing water bottles. Sounds exactly like a sibling fight ending with “I’m going to tell on you!” It’s a shame we’re able to draw so many parallels between toddlers and adults.
As a kid, the one present I would’ve liked this holiday season was a drama-free sports day. That means no Tiger Woods revelations, suspensions, fines or flying foam. Give me pure game highlights. Well, that and Rashard Lewis’s salary for playing on Christmas day.
Portions of this article previously appeared on vype.com.