Saturday, August 26, 2006

Two Historic Occasions

A few days after what would have been the 70th birthday of Wilt Chamberlain, this thought struck me: There have been only two games in the history of the NBA that have been canceled before full time, at least to my knowledge. The first was the the game in which Wilt scored 100 points. The second was when the Pistons and Pacers broke into the infamous brawl. So the question that's just begging to be asked is: Which was more historical, and which affected the NBA more?

Well, first let me look at Wilt's accomplishment. There's a lot of mystical legend surrounding Wilt. He never fouled out. His free throw shooting was atrocious, except for one magical night. He was always better than Rusell, yet his team never got past Russell's. And then of course, there's THE GAME. It was played in Hershey, Pennsylvania. That's hardly a big-time, skyscraper city. Only a few thousand people attended, and no movies and only a few photos existed of the game. No one is even sure how Wilt scored the famous last two points. They only sure thing is this.

Contrast this to the brawl that took place. It was played in Detroit, thousands of people were in the staduim, and it showed on NBA TV. The images of the brawl were shown on ESPN again and again, and eventually beamed around the world.

And then, you have the impact, the lasting impact. How many players, on any level, have dreamed of the legendary, the mystical yet unobtainable triple-digits, 100 points? And the only man to finally get it was the indestructible Wilt Chamberlain. Have you ever considered how smooth 100 is. Perfectly round and lovely. Would it really be that legendary if he had scored, say, 102? 107? How ugly are those numbers? Yet 100 is so perfect.

And then, there's the ugly brawl. You can't describe it any other way than extremely messy. Not only were the players involved, you had fans getting into it as well. Yet it finally convinced the league that they had to crack down on fights like that, and not err on the side of mercy. Even those only minorly involved got suspensions. Ron Artest got an unprecedented season-long ban (which was richly-deserved, by the way).

So, I think that the Palace Brawl was more influential, in the present, and also in the long-term. Not, of course, that the 100 points should be poo-pooed upon. But I think that accomplishment, done by an individual, didn't have so much bearing on the league as a whole, and it was more distant to the average fan. This brawl, as I said before, was broadcast so many times around the world. The effect was long-lasting, and it really made fans, and, most importantly, the league, question how they were doing stuff, if it was being done properly, and so on.

So, in the end, it's the Brawl that gets the nod

No comments: