How bad was the fight between fans and players in the Palace of Auburn Hills in Detroit? Not half as bad as the fighters, say two guys who should know.
Mike Robinson, trainer at the Boxing Club in Encinitas, and Ken Shamrock, a former ultimate fighting champion, watched a video of the brawl between fans and members of the Indiana Pacers and Detroit Pistons.
“Those are more like slaps he’s throwing there,” said Robinson as Pacer Stephen Jackson swung wildly at a fan.
“That was horrible” was Robinson’s dismissive judgment of Ron Artest’s sucker punch that failed to deck another fan. “That one from [Jermaine] O’Neal -- that’s different. That was a direct hit.”
“I’m not even sure it was a good shot,” Shamrock cautioned. “O’Neal ends up on the ground sliding into second. Wrong sport!”
Here’s what Robinson and Shamrock said about some of the brawlers’ fighting skills, and some nicknames should any of these tough guys decide on a career in the ring or the Ultimate Fighting Championship cage.
Victim Fan No. 1, in the black shirt, “The Domino”:
His terror at the approaching Artest gets the best of him, and he goes down even before Artest takes a swing at him.
Stephen “The Flailer” Jackson (No. 1 with gold headband):
“You wouldn’t hurt anybody with a punch [slap] like that,” Robinson said.
Piston fan in a blue shirt and beige cap, “The Flip-Flopper”:
For about 10 seconds he plays the peacemaker and tries to pull Artest off “The Domino,” then goes to war and throws a weak back-of-the-head shot at Artest.
Large fan in beige sweater, “The Sandman”:
His powerful right hooks to the back of Pacer Fred Jones’ head (No. 20) didn’t knock Jones out, but they convinced him to stay low. “Those [punches] hurt no matter how hard they are or how clean their impact,” Robinson said.
Jermaine “The Suckerin’ Slider” O’Neal (No. 7):
He came from at least six feet away to deliver a blow that caught a fan completely off guard. “Some of these guys ought to jump in the cage and see what it’s really like to throw down,” Shamrock said.