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Friday, July 11, 2014
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Published: Monday, 3/28/2005

NBA blundered by ordering Pistons to play

And then there were four.

Not one. Not two. Not three. But four - that's right, four! - bomb threats personally delivered to the Palace for Friday night's Detroit Pistons-

Indiana Pacers game.

NBA commissioner David Stern was aware of the first two bomb threats, which anonymous callers made prior to the game. Despite those first two threats - the last two threats were made at the end of the game - and despite the Pacers being made to feel even more uncomfortable about their first trip back to the Palace since the infamous Nov. 19 brawl, the NBA's response was Stern and swift: The game must go on.

Why? By postponing the game, the NBA would have surrendered nothing, other than inconveniencing both teams and fans with tickets to the game.

Given everything that's transpired between the Pacers and Pistons and unruly Pistons fans at the Palace this season, Friday was not a night for basketball.

It was a time for common sense, a time for allowing cooler heads to prevail.

It was not the right time for the NBA to show everyone who's in control. It was absolutely the wrong time for Stern to order the Pacers to play.

The majority of Pistons fans are law-abiding, decent citizens, but there is a certain rogue element giving Detroit a reputation that's fast becoming an unwanted reality. What happened Friday only makes an already bad situation even worse.

With baseball's All-Star Game scheduled for Comerica Park this summer, and the 2006 Super Bowl set for Ford Field, Detroit doesn't need another black eye that surely will result from the latest disaster at the Palace.

The national media doesn't need another reason to bash Detroit for being the last major city you'd want to host a major sporting event.

Like it or not, unfair or not, what happened Friday at the Palace was a disgrace.

The Pacers are to be commended for maintaining their focus in an already-hostile environment after learning that a person, or persons, had called Auburn Hills police 50 minutes before tipoff to warn that a bomb was hidden in the visiting locker room.

The Pacers left the Palace until their locker room was searched by police and bomb dogs. The start of the game was delayed for nearly 90 minutes.

Given that Indiana was short one starter because of a suspension resulting from the brawl (Ron Artest) and another starter who was suspended but is now out with an injury (Jermaine O'Neal), the Pacers' 94-81 win over the Pistons was nothing short of remarkable.

Indiana guard Reggie Miller made no attempt to hide his anger for Stern, the Pistons, or their fans. He told reporters the Pacers were divided over whether to play.

As Friday's game, which featured a brief skirmish between Detroit's Ben Wallace and Indiana's Scot Pollard, drew to a close, Pacers forward Stephen Jackson, who was suspended for his role in the November brawl, looked toward the stands as security personnel broke up a fight and literally carried one fan out of the arena.

All he could think of, Jackson told reporters, was "let's get this game over with and let's get out of here."

The last thing the NBA needs is a first-round playoff tussle, er, matchup between the Pistons and Pacers. Sad to say, there isn't enough room inside the Palace for the Pacers, the Pistons and some of their more brazen fans.



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