Where's the 'pro' in pro athletes?

By Jeffery Armstrong

By now, everyone has seen the famous NBA brawl between some of the Indiana Pacers basketball players and the Detroit Pistons fans. What some of you may not have seen what Minnesota Timberwolves' player Latrell Sprewell did the other night. Apparently, a female NBA fan was heckling Sprewell at a recent game and Sprewell said some really nasty things back at her. Now according to the T-Wolves personnel, players and coaches, this female fan said some very nasty things to Sprewell and I'm sure that was true. But why would Sprewell lower himself to that woman's standards by yelling some of the same stuff back at her? It's truly mind-boggling. I also have to wonder why he would allow himself to put his hands around the neck of P.J. Carlesimo, head coach of the Golden State Warriors, when he was on that team years ago. Sure, Carlesimo probably did some things that were uncalled for, but you just can't go around choking your boss, no matter how upset you are. I've been angry at my bosses in years past, but I've never even thought about hitting or choking or striking them in any way.

It just makes me wonder - where's the "professional" In professional athlete these days? It seems as if these guys have no class or home training whatsoever. The brawl In Detroit Is another In a long list of reasons why I am not a big fan of the NBA. To me, there's less than 10 guys in that league who embody the word professional. You've got immature thugs, dope-smokers and guys with no guidance in that league who just can't be "disrespected" by anyone, especially the fans that pay their enormous salaries. These guys can't take anyone saying anything bad about them; I've never seen so many spoiled people in my life. Most of these athletes act like fans are supposed to sing their praises for everything they do. I've got a news flash for you, players: it's not going to happen. Fans are going to drink beer at games and once they're drunk, they're going to say anything they want to say, especially if they don't like you. If somehow the NBA bans beer from arenas (which will never happen considering how much money beer sales bring in), fans will just get drunk before going to the games.

I can understand how frustrating It must be for players to have to listen to garbage from fans all night long, especially when it gets personal. As a reporter at high school and college games, I hear fans all the time and sometimes their comments can be irritating. Sometimes fans will say things to me that I may not like, but I don't let it bother me. I keep my emotions in check and NBA players need to do the same thing. They've got to be professional, meaning they have to play their games, leave the arena and take care of their business. If the fans say nasty things, take it in stride and move on; there's no need to "keep it real" and stoop to the level of idiotic people. It hurts you, the player, in the long run. Sprewell was suspended for a game and lost some money for his actions; the woman who started the whole thing went to work the next day, earning a day's pay.

Jeffery Armstrong is a sports writer for the Daily and his column appears on Thursdays. He can be reached at jarmstrong@news-daIly.com .