Hardwood Hostilities

Hardwood Hostilities

Losing your temper is a part of life. Many of us have had that moment where our tranquil vibe was disrupted by an event or person that has sent us into a tirade of raw emotion that we regret at a later date. From verbal altercations with friends to the brief physical dustup during a pick-up game, losing your cool tends to happen now and again.

How you handle yourself during those moments is what sets an people apart.

There appears to be more awareness regarding a growing number of on-camera heated exchanges between NBA stars this season. The latest of which was the Magic’s G Arron Afflalo winding up for a haymaker on Minnesota Timberwolves’ F Nemanja Bjelica. Fortunately, Afflalo’s MMA attempt did not connect properly, though it still drew a crowd as the two players pushed and shoved their way through their grievances.

The scrap was the latest in a group of on- and off-court scuffles that have received mainstream attention from outlets usually not concerned with sports. Which now opens the NBA up to the eventual discussion of ‘should there be further punishment for players given the frequency of these incidents?’ The public relations department can’t be too pleased that they need to spin stories about Trevor Ariza and some Houston Rockets teammates storming into the LA Clippers locker room to extend the hostilities after the game concluded on Monday. Even worse, this happened on Martin Luther King Day — a holiday so revered in the NBA that they takeover the day with games. The scuffles were an unfortunate set of events that marred what was intended to be a day of promising marquee matchups on an important national holiday during the NBA season.

Are we making more out of this than there needs to be?

Not really. If these altercations happened any other day of the season, they would still make news. And while tussles like this happen across various sports and leagues, at the professional level, athletes are held to a higher standard based on influence, endorsements and sponsorships, not to mention plain-old human nature from the viewing audience. While I don’t believe there’s an epidemic regarding fights in the NBA, the league has come a long way from past decades of misperceptions with the addition of the pre-game dress (something I’m still not sold on), stability among the players union and goodwill between the association and the public. Along with international appeal and social media savvy, the NBA has been able to remain ahead of the Big Four sports leagues in terms of relevance and innovation. These dustups would be a step backwards to a past they’ve tried to escape for much of the past decade.

The good news is that news trends these days shift swiftly. The NBA All-Star voting and selection process will take over the focus of the conversation soon. The MVP race and the potential impending collapse of the Cleveland Cavaliers will jump to the forefront of the conversation.

This will be a blip coming off a week where the NBA reflected on how social change has come in the form of racial freedom, the league found itself reminded of how far it has progressed from a public image standpoint.

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