An Egregious Error in The Sacramento Bee

I like Joe Davidson. I really do. He's a very nice guy, and he seems to care a lot about the city, the Kings, and basketball in general. I've never heard a bad word about Joe Davidson, human being.

But he completely butchered his story on Ron Artest's controversial talk to Detroit kids Wednesday as a part of his community service in the wake of Malice at the Palace.

Here is the inexcusable passage:

The brawl started when Artest shoved Pistons center Ben Wallace in a regular-season game in which the outcome had long been decided. Artest then stretched out on the scorer's table, a pose that apparently made him look defiant to Pistons fans, including one who hit Artest with a thrown cup. Artest then raced into the stands.

If Davidson were writing for the Tuscaloosa News or the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner or the Kennebec Journal, it might be understandable to botch a description of the most infamous fight in pro sports history.

But there are at least three cities where that should NEVER happen: Detroit, Indianapolis, and Sacramento.

The fight did not start when Artest shoved Ben Wallace. In fact, Artest never shoved Ben Wallace! He fouled him in the context of the game - a hard foul, but not even a flagrant by most observers' criteria. It was then Wallace who shoved Artest. That's when things got heated, leading to the benches clearing, Ron-Ron laying on the scorer's table, John Green tossing a cold beverage, and madness ensuing. Don't get me wrong - Artest was an idiot for going into the crowd, and Green was a double-idiot for throwing a beer at another grown man who has not even so much as looked at you, let alone disrespect you or put you in danger. All the actors in the episode are responsible for their own actions, but that includes Wallace, who escalated the situation from "hard foul near end of the game, some words exchanged" to "shoving one of the fiercest players in the game who plays for your biggest rival in a city pretty hostile to said player and said team." It was Wallace who kept trying to get at Artest after shoving him, it was Wallace who wanted things to come to a head between the two right then and there.

There's no excuse for a basketball writer in Artest's new town to misstate something so obvious. It's not like there isn't video of the brawl all over the web. It's not like the brawl hasn't been dissected a million times in gory detail.  It's beyond egregious. It's irresponsible.

This isn't the first time Davidson has had a pretty blatant mistake in one of his stories. The last time wasn't so serious - it was more odd and annoying than anything. This one is serious - Artest doesn't need people to make up stuff to make him look bad. Trust me. Give him long enough, and for one reason or another, he'll get peoples' hackles up about something.

Let's hope The Bee runs a correction on this tomorrow, and fixes the story online ASAP.

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