Perhaps you heard, on Tuesday, about Los Angeles Laker reserve guard Steve Blake being fined $25,000 for engaging in a rude back and forth with a fan during a Lakers loss last Friday.
Then, perhaps, you read that the fan was the son of the founder of shoe company LA Gear. You were probably surprised to hear that LA Gear is still an actual company. Then you were shocked to learn that the founder of LA Gear has owned eight — eight! — courtside season tickets to Lakers games for years, an exercise that has to cost in the millions per season.
Hopefully, perhaps, you didn't read about how Blake and the son and the father had a little get-together to assuage everyone's hurt widdle feelings in the aftermath, because that would probably turn your stomach. If you hadn't, and we're sorry for turning your stomach, but this bit of hand-wringing actually happened. This reminds us of when 1950s comics had to go apologize to mob dons they poked fun at following a show, save for EVERY SINGLE THING THAT IS COOL about what I just compared this to.
If you missed it, here's the video of Blake jawing with Lance Jackson from Friday night:
Blake is obviously perturbed, as the Lakers fell to 0-3 to start the season. He appeared to frustratingly roll the ball at Los Angeles Clippers guard Chris Paul after one foul, and apparently the source of his consternation was Jackson yelling something at Blake about failing to hit his open shots. Blake, who at that point was hitting on a pretty-good-for-him 5 of 12 from the floor on the season (he's 40 percent career, that's a sound 41.7 percent, he's since upped that percentage a few ticks), reportedly responded by pointing out what his fellow season-ticket holding wife could do to Jackson, allegedly involving an F-bomb along the way.
Oh, me. Oh, my.
Here's the Los Angeles Times on the meeting between Blake and the Jacksons, from Tuesday:
" … [Blake] met with the fan and his father, longtime court-side ticket-holder Steve Jackson, at the team's practice facility on Tuesday.
"We got a chance to speak and talk about the situation," said Blake. "I just let him know that I was sorry for the way I acted. I didn't handle myself the way I wanted to. We were able to talk and hopefully build a relationship off of that.
"That's not what I want to be known for," he said. "They are great people and they didn't deserve that type of interaction."
The fan obviously said something to Blake after his fifth foul, because by the time Blake committed his sixth foul a minute later and started yelling across the court at Jackson, Lance was looking the other way. Ticked beyond belief at an ohfer three record and a sixth foul, to say nothing of Jackson saying something to him, Blake unleashed.
I sort of take issue with sports heckling in the modern age. At a baseball or football game, from miles away, it's fine. In most basketball seats, at a distance where nothing can be heard? Go ahead.
In the front row?
Can't you save that? Like Blake isn't trying? Like your vitriol sent toward his turned back is going to help? Like you can't get on your Twitter account, or Facebook page, or favorite Laker message board or blog (or, heaven forbid you want to put together some cogent analysis, your own blog?) to complain away on? And if your family can afford eight Laker courtside seats, for years, I'm pretty sure your phone is good enough to update most of those complaint-heavy sites from 10 feet away from Blake while he fumes after his fifth foul.
If you do decide to unleash, and Blake comes right back? Why not put a smile on your face and try to keep up? Why is it that you can say whatever you want to Blake's silent side, and Blake isn't allowed to come right back? For instance, like you would if Blake tossed a potshot in the midst of a rough day of [whatever it is that Lance Jackson does for a living]?
Whatever happened to jawing? Why does it have to be one-sided? If Jackson is allowed the right to yell things out at Blake because his father owns a bunch of seats, why can't Blake come back at him? And then — because we're jawing — why can't Jackson come after Blake with a few barbs after that? As long as cool heads prevail, no fists are clenched, and no children are being introduced to sexual acts they'd have to get on UrbanDictionary.com to read more about, what's the problem?
If the NBA doesn't like its players going back and forth with fans, and Blake signed his last collectively bargained contract knowing full well that a $25,000 fine would be in the offing if he engaged in such acts, then that's just fine. But for the Lakers to encourage (we're guessing; because they signed off on fans coming to a practice) a sheepish meeting between all the "offended" parties? Hasn't anyone ever gotten in a fight before?
This isn't to rip on Lance Jackson, unless he whined his way into that personal apology from Blake on Tuesday. Nor is it to defend Blake, who should have kept his wits about him (although we all have our breaking point), or criticize the NBA (which lawfully negotiated fines like these into their collective bargaining agreement, and are rightfully following through on the terms) for the fine or the Lakers for kowtowing to someone who hands them a lot of money yearly for courtside seats.
Still, can't each of the parties listed — save for the NBA, whose hands are tied — do better than this?
Apparently not. And, if you look up Steve Jackson's devotion to the Lakers, you'll know why when you find this obsessive (and costly) tidbit. From Virtual Globetrotting:
Jackson is a big name in LA basketball. He has built a replica of the Staples Center in his home complete with championship banners and a piece of the floor from the old Forum in Inglewood. NBA teams before games in LA or NBA players use it as an off-season pick-up court, and L.A.-based agent Arn Tellem uses it as a work-out centre for clients.
In other words, "watch your mouth, backup point guard."
We just would have liked it to end with some glares, a furrowed brow, a few more rude words coming from each side, some nice barbs, and eventual fist-bump; as two people that really want the Lakers to play well hash it out like frustrated adults are capable of. Without hand-wringing and namby-pamby meetings to make sure everybody and their small dog's feelings won't continue to hurt.
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