Why Fans and Players and Playing So Rough

The worst brawl in NBA history highlights the combustible mix of rabid spectators and strutting athletes. Is the game itself losing out?

As brawls goes, it was hardly the worst that sport has to offer. Europeans accustomed to soccer's bloodbaths must have been chuckling: You call that a riot? In five minutes of mayhem that was repeated thousands of times on TV, Indiana Pacers forward Ron Artest was seen leading a fast break into the stands at the Palace in Auburn Hills, Mich. Artest was charging down a local lout, John Green, who hit him with a full beverage cup after Artest got into an on-court scuffle with the Detroit Pistons' Ben Wallace. Several teammates joined Artest, punching anyone they could reach. The referees ended the game with 45.9 sec. left, and...

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