The NBA learned from ‘Malice at the Palace,’ Will the NFL learn from its woes?

Before the brawl headed into the crowd, there was a dustup between Ben Wallace and Ron Artest.

Before the brawl headed into the crowd, there was a dustup between Ben Wallace and Ron Artest.

By Charles Glover Jr.

On November 19, 2004 the NBA was turned upside down with a brawl that eventually changed the view of players and the league itself. Dubbed the “Malice at the Palace,” the brawl between the Indiana Pacers and Detroit Pistons erupted into the stands and earned recognition by the Associated Press as “the most infamous brawl in NBA history.”

The brawl spilled into the crowd as things escalated during the infamous night in Detroit.

The brawl spilled into the crowd as things escalated during the infamous night in Detroit.

Ron Artest (now Metta World Peace) was at the center of the brawl that started after Artest and Pistons center Ben Wallace got into a minor altercation. Artest then threw a drink at a fan from the crowd. Artest then charged into the stands and attacked the person that thought was the assailant. Other Pacers like Stephen Jackson and Jermaine O’neal were fierce in their support of their teammate during the melee that spread from the crowd onto the court.

The result was a prolonged stain on the image of the NBA as the fight with fans seemed to justify the concerns by some that the NBA had become too boorish and abrasive to accommodate the upscale portion of their fan-base. NBA’s commissioner at the time, David Stern, decided to institute sweeping changes to bridge the gap between NBA fans and its players. Several players received stiff penalties, highlighted by Artest’s 73-game suspension, which was the equivalent to all games remaining in the season.

David Stern was the commissioner of the NBA during the Malice at the Palace and was at the forefront of major changes that eventually benefitted the NBA.

David Stern was the commissioner of the NBA during the Malice at the Palace and was at the forefront of major changes that eventually benefitted the NBA.

The league also made changes to security measures and alcohol limits at games. Shortly thereafter, the NBA instituted a dress code, requiring the players to dress in suits when traveling for games. The dress code was geared towards changing the perception that too many players were distancing themselves from fans by embracing hip hop culture in their dress and attitude. The NBA became the first of the major sports to have such a requirement.

The four prominent participants in the Pacers - Pistons  brawl (l - r) Ron Artest, Stephen Jackson, Jermaine  O'neal, Ben Wallace.

The four prominent participants in the Pacers – Pistons brawl (l – r) Ron Artest, Stephen Jackson, Jermaine O’neal, Ben Wallace.

There were many opponents to some of the changes, specifically the dress code, as the changes seemed to be an overreaction to the “Malice at the Palace.” However, there was no doubt the NBA as facing an image problem. There was also increasing frustration with the NBA as they struggled in their representation of the USA in the 2004 Olympics and 2006 World Cup. These events provided enough of an impetus by Stern to make major changes to the way people view NBA players.

Stern has made a number of questionable decisions but the approach he took to reshape the image of the NBA at that time was a necessary one. The changes were not popular amongst everyone, including many fans. There was also renewed efforts to bring the best players to international competition. This calculated move helped bring national support to the NBA players during their gold medal run in the 2008 Olympics and thereafter.

The NFL and commissioner Roger Goodell (c) could learn from the NBA on how to change league perception following scandals involving Ray Rice (r) and Adrian Peterson (l).

The NFL and commissioner Roger Goodell (c) could learn from the NBA on how to change league perception following scandals involving Ray Rice (r) and Adrian Peterson (l).

The changes to NBA policies and initiatives were reactions to a number of negative incidents that were highlighted by the “Malice at the Palace.” Stern and NBA executives were wise enough to sense that there was enough of the fan-base that desired noticeable changes to some aspects of how NBA players operate. There are times when it is necessary to make forceful changes to make a lasting impact and the NBA was able to shift the perception in their favor.

However, the shift in perception took years to take effect. The lesson NFL commissioner Roger Goodell can apply to the current dismal state of affairs with the NFL with the Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson scandal is that it is necessary to make forceful changes that address the problem. There also must be patience that is earned from operating in a matter that demonstrates that the league is as appalled by the troubles of the league and will take exceptional measures to rectify matters.

(l - r) Chris Paul, Kevin Durant, and LeBron James have helped reshape the NBA image with Team USA and by making an impact in their communities as well as for their teams.

(l – r) Chris Paul, Kevin Durant, and LeBron James have helped reshape the NBA image with Team USA and by making an impact in their communities as well as for their teams.

The NBA now has a number of stars like LeBron James, Kevin Durant, and Chris Paul who are noticed for their great play on the court and positive impact away from the game as well. The NBA has also seen increase in viewership and monetary growth in the 10 years since the “Malice at the Palace.” As the next 10 years unfold, the NBA seems to be miles away from the negativity that surrounded the league in 2004.will the NFL be smart enough to emulate the NBA model, which has improved the league’s image and profitability at the same time? Only time will tell.–OnPointPress.net–

Charles Glover Jr. is a sports aficionado and a management training consultant. Follow me @OpenWindoMES on Twitter.com.

Emotional, physical health equally important for athletes

Mike Tyson recently admitted he's been untruthful about his recovery and he still struggles with alcoholism.

Mike Tyson recently admitted that he’s been untruthful about his recovery. He said that he still struggles with alcoholism.

By Charles Glover, Jr.

Athletes are often revered for their exceptional physical gifts and spectacular performances, yet many athletes are less successful in conquering their emotional issues and the subsequent struggles that accompany those problems. Alcoholism, drug abuse and violent outbursts are symptoms of unresolved emotional issues that unfortunately have troubled  many revered athletes across the vast sports landscape.

Former Olympic figure skater Tanya Harding

Former Olympic figure skater Tanya Harding, who assaulted her competitor Nancy Kerrigan with a bat, injuring her knee.

Whether its retired boxer Mike Tyson, former NBA star Allen Iverson and Lamar Odom, who has no current NBA team, there are many athletes who have had prolonged public battles with emotional issues.

There is still a large segment of the population that believes that seeking help for emotional issues should still be reserved for extreme cases only. The same belief often exists when dealing with drug and alcohol problems as well.

Former MLB pitcher Dwight Gooden released his autobiography in June 2013 detailing his numerous struggles with addiction while dealing with personal and professional success and failures.

Former MLB pitcher Dwight Gooden released his autobiography in June 2013 detailing his numerous struggles with addiction while dealing with personal and professional success and failures.

 

 

The result of this unhelpful attitude towards mental and emotional health are the numerous are seen in questionable conduct shown by troubled athletes. Mike Tyson, Dwight Gooden, JaMarcus Russell, Tanya Harding, and current NBA players Lamar Odom and Michael Beasley have all had brushes with infamy due to untreated issues. The recurring theme of legal, financial and personal struggles that these athletes have experienced has a direct link to their approach to addressing their myriad of emotional issues.

Oscar De la Hoya's issue with substance abuse resurfaced as he checked himself back into rehab just days before the mega fight featuring Floyd Mayweather on Sept. 14,2013 that De la Hoya's Golden Boy company helped promote.

Oscar De La Hoya’s struggles with substance abuse resurfaced  recently. He checked himself back into rehab just days before the mega fight featuring Floyd Mayweather on Sept. 14,2013 that De La Hoya’s Golden Boy company helped promote.

There is no guarantee that addressing emotional issues will result in complete recovery. in fact, it is likely there will be relapses because relapse is a part of the recovery process. Oscar De La Hoya had to admit himself into rehab for his continued struggle with recovering from drug abuse. Jason Kidd is largely past the issues that landed him in trouble with the law. However, Kidd was arrested for suspicion of DUI during last year’s NBA off-season. Emotional issues are commonly dealt with by excessive drug and alcohol abuse as sufferers have not been able to find a productive manner in which to cope with their issues.

Lamar Odom has seen his current problems with substance abuse become front page news over the past several weeks.

Lamar Odom has seen his current problems with substance abuse become front page news over the past several weeks.

With the prominence of social media and the constant news cycle, athletes have an extremely difficult time hiding their emotional struggles when begin to unravel. This summer has been less than kind to Lamar Odom as his struggles with drug abuse resurfaced. But his refusal to engage in sustained treatment by checking himself out of rehab after only one day demonstrates a level of denial that will continue to fuel his struggles. However, there are examples of athletes who seem to be gaining a better understanding of how to cope with challenges.

Former WNBA star Chamika Holdsclaw on Iyanla: Fix My Life in 2013

Former WNBA star Chamika Holdsclaw appeared on Iyanla: Fix My Life in 2013

A recent episode of “Iyanla, Fix My Life” featured Chamika Holdsclaw, former WNBA and women’s college basketball star. The show gave a glimpse into Holdsclaw’s internal scars as viewers watched her begin to learn to accept her past and gain tools on how to improve her future. Metta World Peace (formerly Ron Artest) was known for his numerous outbursts in the past. Now, he often acknowledges the benefit of his therapist and readily spreads the word of how effective therapy can be.

There’s cause for optimism for affected athletes because of the varying success stories of recovery from emotional turmoil. Michael Irvin faced public scrutiny for his substance abuse problems during his NFL career. He has overcome those issues to have a successful career as an analyst.

Tennis star Andre Agassi

Tennis star Andre Agassi

Andre Agassi’s substance abuse problems threatened to derail a thriving tennis career until successful rehabilitation allowed him to rebound and have a resounding professional and personal revival. Herschel Walker was often described as angry and aloof while playing in the NFL. He was diagnosed with Dis-associative Identity Disorder, also known as multiple personality disorder. After the diagnosis, Walker gained greater clarity and understanding, leading to multiple successful business ventures including a food service company, an appearance on NBC’s Apprentice, and a brief career in mixed martial arts.

All struggles are different and any degree of success is helpful when acknowledged. Rookie NFL player Tyrann Mathieu made headlines last year when he was dismissed from LSU after multiple failed drug tests. Mathieu has been able to rehabilitate his image and revive his career with the help of John Lucas II, president of John Lucas Enterprises, a network of drug treatment centers that mostly features athletes as clients.

Former NBA player and coach John Lucas II has found success in his post-athletic career in running his Houston based John Lucas Treatment and Recovery Center for  individuals struggling with substance abuse.

Former NBA player and coach John Lucas II has found success in his post-athletic career in running his Houston- based John Lucas Treatment and Recovery Center for individuals struggling with substance abuse.

Essentially, the best way to ensure that current and future athletes get the help they need to address their emotional concerns is to shift the narrative. Lucas, who once faced serious substance abuse problems while playing in the NBA, is a prime example of an athlete recognizing the importance of addressing the negative results of untreated emotional issues. If more athletes attach the same vigor, and diligence to their emotional and mental health as they do to their physical health and abilities, there will be more comprehensive success stories. When that happens, athletes will experience success in multiple areas of their lives which will allow them to be their complete best.  – Onpointpress.net

 

Charles Glover, Jr. is a sports aficionado and a management training consultant.