Sounds like Kobe Bryant wasn't the only one who was angry in Salt Lake City on Wednesday night.
Apparently, a pair of Los Angeles Lakers fans — hoppin' mad and super sad at their team's early season struggles, capped off by a 95-86 loss to the Utah Jazz at EnergySolutions Arena on Wednesday — chose to express their anger in a completely ridiculous, aggressive and over-the-top manner. "But Dan," you ask. "What makes these two different from the regular, garden-variety Lakers fan who expresses his anger in a completely ridiculous, aggressive and over-the-top manner?" The two-word answer: Pepper spray.
Seriously. A Laker fan has been accused of firing a fire extinguisher-like field of pepper spray at a Jazz fan. The details, from Janelle Stecklein at the Salt Lake Tribune:
Salt Lake City police Detective Josh Ashdown said a pair of Utah Jazz fans were attending the basketball game Wednesday night when they started trash talking with a pair of Lakers fans.
The discussion escalated and the Lakers fans challenged the Jazz fans to a fight, which they declined, Ashdown said.
Security threw the two Lakers' fans out of the game, but they apparently decided to stick around to continue the confrontation with the Jazz fans, he said.
The Lakers' fans spotted the Jazz fans standing on the corner of 100 South and 400 West and started trash talking again.
At that point, one of the Lakers' fans pulled out pepper spray fogger and let loose with it, police said.
OK, cool. Very reasonable.
Let's establish as a baseline that, generally speaking, grown men should not be squawking and squabbling and challenging one another to fistfights. This is especially true in Utah, where a contest of fists almost certainly runs afoul of somewhere between 11 and 15 legal and moral statutes. This is a way worse way to spend your time than watching Dwight Howard dunk or Gordon Hayward run around doing about a billion cool little help-you-win-games things between missed jumpers. These gentlemen all would have been better served just having a
Coke — crap, no caffeine, um, water? — and a smile, and watching the game unfold.
THAT SAID: I kind of get the first two stages of this absurdity, but am having a hard time reconciling the third.
For starters, if you're jawing with fans of the opposing team, things get heated, you throw down the gauntlet to shoot the fair one and your quarries decline, the molten macho core in the center of my brain understands the urge to continue pressing them, to question their masculinity, to continue pursuing conflict, because now you are pretty sure that they don't want problems with you, which is like catnip to a meathead aggressor looking to prove his dominance. Of course you're going to push what you perceive to be an advantage in displaying how tough you are, especially when you've got reason to believe you face relatively little danger from dudes who just said they don't want it with you.
On top of that, if this initial aggression leads to you being ejected from the game like a couple of Thomas Robinsons, then of course you're going to stick around and try to catch the dudes who wouldn't fight you before in the hopes that they'll fight you now. You're not going to accept any blame for your predicament, because you're all jacked up on rageahol and eager to smash. Plus, you'd earmarked that time for watching the purple and gold. What else are you going to do? Again, in the context of a couple of creeps looking to get into a fight, this all checks out thus far.
The problem I have is with re-encountering those two Jazz fans, re-engaging them in pursuit of combat with the understanding that they didn't want beef ... and then using chemical weaponry on them. Didn't you establish that you didn't think these guys were tough? Didn't you wait around just so you could prove it? Doesn't having to use a foreign object in the process basically completely sap the moment of any fortitude, masculinity or toughness? It makes all that time waiting around seem like a waste; you don't even get to look at yourself in the mirror later, satisfied at having rearranged some jerk's face. There's nothing cool about it — it's just lame.
It could get much worse than lame, too. Salt Lake police are reportedly looking for a "Latino in his early 30s who was wearing a Lakers jersey" in connection with the attack — so, y'know, keep an eye out for the fuzz, Wilmer Valderrama — and, if they find him or his partner in crime, a 95-86 loss will be the least of their worries.
Hat-tip to SLAM's Marcel Mutoni.
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