Artest being restrained in Detroit
I'm probably the only NBA fan who when hearing two words, "punch" and "Pacers" in a sentence, doesn't immediately think of Ronnie Artest wading up into the stands in Detroit to hurl several hay makers at fans who had doused him with draft beer. 

No, something quite different comes to mind and the slow sting of bruised up pride and ashamed embarrassment floods over me and soon my mind slips away to row 15 section 20 @ Canseco Fieldhouse.

Before I go into this story, let me just say that this is an absolutely and positively honest account of a situation that I encountered. 

Let me start from the beginning.  I'm a Boston Celtics fan.  Have been my whole life.  Some of my fondest childhood memories were watching the C's battle the Lakers. 

I would hang on every shot by Larry Bird, every rebound by the Chief and every up and under by McHale.  I would cringe anytime the camera got that classic close up of DJ at the foul line. I would shout obscenities just like Danny Ainge after a particularly bad call.

I nicknamed my goldfish "Cornbread" after Maxwell and my turtle "Tiny" after Archibald. 

I've suffered through the unfortunate and untimely deaths of Len Bias and Reggie Lewis.  The equally painful drafts that included the likes of Brad Lohaus, Brian Shaw, Dee Brown, Rick Fox and Acie Earl of whom I'd often said had a worse career then Len Bias who died before every taking the floor in an NBA game. 

I've stuck by the green and white through every ill advised Antoine Walker three and every Ron Mercer fade away, through Chris Fords unfortunate mustache and Joe Klien's amazingly snug shorts in which I'm still convinced he hid a pet boa constrictor. 

So it was no surprise to my wife and anybody that knows me that several years ago, when the last place Celtics came to Indianapolis to play the Pacers I clamored for tickets like it was the NBA finals game 7. 

The C's weren't the present day "big three" Celts this was the young Paul Pierce minus Antoine Walker C's who led the league in turnovers missed threes and attempted block shots.

The Pacers were good as this was the Reggie Miller led Indy squad with the pipe hitting Davis brothers, Jalen Rose and the dunking Dutchman Rick Smits who owned one of the more underrated staches of all time.  It was blonde, pencil thin and so, so creepy. 

I went to the game with low expectations.  My wife, girlfriend at the time, Mishawna had to prod me to even throw on my favorite green tee with the cigar smoking leprechaun twirling a ball on his finger. So I stuffed myself into it even though I had out grown the size medium several years prior.

Once arriving to Canseco I could tell there was a little electricity in the air.  It was Larry Bird bobble head night complete with the shoddy permed out hair and push broom dusty.  They gave one to the first 1,000 fans so of course I got one being that we needed to arrive several hours early to watch warm ups.

The seats were good in Section 20, which is behind the hoop but low.  Not quite ear piece level, I'll explain all the seat designations at NBA games for a later post, but low enough to see that the Pace mates were mostly past their prime ex-strippers who muffin topped out of their tight sequence boy shorts. 

My usual behavior at any basketball game typically consists of lots of barking at the referees, snide remarks to opposing fans and relentless heckling of the other team. 

For some reason, despite more prodding from my girlfriend, I remained well behaved through out the entire first half.  Not even a loud "TURD" chant when Miller was at the line.  No, "Hey Dusty, pull up your shorts or tuck in your underwear!" insult at Smits.  Nothing.

I sat silent and watched a good NBA basketball game, sipped my beer, nibbled on a pretzel and watched my C's get down by 10 at the halftime buzzer.

I think it was that time of the season when the C's were basically playing for draft lottery position and my hopes for the playoffs had already been smashed with a hammer, kicked by mule and smothered with a pillow.

Maybe that's what made me so docile.  Or maybe it was the devils lettuce? 

As I went  to the concession for a hot dog, nachos and ice cream, I remarked to Mishawna how nice the Pacers fans were and how they really knew basketball.  They clapped at appropriate times and appreciated the small fundamentals of the game rewarding their players for hustle plays and good passing.

Little did i know that there also were some mentally unstable violent fans with an affinity for sucker punching innocent bystanders. 

As the 3rd quarter tipped, I noticed that the Pacers left their intensity in the locker room and the undermanned Celtics came out firing.  The lead started to diminish.  The crowd started to get restless. 

By the 5 minute mark the game was tied and the C's had the ball.  Paul Pierce had the ball at the elbow and executed a perfect step back jumper. 

Sensing the upset, I slowly got to my feet and started clapping as the teams went to the bench.  It wasn't an obnoxious clap aimed at drawing the faithfuls ire.  It was an appreciative clap, understanding that a team with nothing to play for was giving an earnest effort.

Then it happened. 

I felt somebody stand up behind me and push through the crowd for what seemed to me a trip to the aisle way.  All of sudden out of nowhere I felt this powerful "THWWACK!" straight across my face.

Shocked, I twirled around and I saw some grown ass man with child like features standing in the aisle with double middle fingers up, looking at me screaming "F*CK YOU MAN!, F*CK YOU MAN!"  He seemed distraught like he was going to cry.  And then he sprinted up the stairs to the exit.

Still somewhat stunned, I instinctively start clawing through my row heading towards the isle.  I'm not much of a fighter but the adrenaline had crept in and I was all kinds of fired up.

I felt a hand around my arm dissuading me from pursuit.  I turned and its Mishawna and I pause to notice that she is dying laughing.  Like in tears, violently shaking laughter.  I start to get even more pissed and I'm yelling.  "What the hell just happened?"  I started to examine the crowd with my arms up, like "what the f?". 

Nobody would make eye contact and a few people were snickering.  I grew more and more incensed.  "HOW CAN SOMEBODY JUST PUNCH SOMEBODY AT A BASKETBALL GAME?" I was screaming.  Still no answers, no sympathy.  I felt like the butt of a joke.

Missy finally calmed herself down and whispers, he didn't punch you he slapped you.  Sensing that this wasn't what I wanted to hear, she put her hand up to her mouth like.."shhhhhhh".  I'm still enraged.  She can't quit laughing though as I berated her with questions.  "Where was he sitting?  Who was he with?".  I got snot bubbles and hysteria, doubled over laughter.

I'm way tired of it by this point and I said in my sternest voice possible, "Look, its not f*cking funny.  That hurt and I don't appreciate you laughing".  Finally she caught her breath and said, "you can't be mad".  I responded, "Why the hell not".

Then she droped it on me.  "He was....he was special!".  My mind wasn't functioning and I couldn't comprehend.  I said "what do you mean special."  She said, "he wasn't all up there Tom, he was retarded!" 

My face turned twelve shades of purple and I buried my head in my hands.  I didn't know whether to laugh or cry.  I just looked at Missy, grabbed my beer and finished it in one swallow. 

I barely remember the rest of the game and in fact I can't even remember who won. 

What I do remember is that weekend I'm at a bar with some friends and I'm telling them the story.  I get finished and all my boy can say is, "Dude, you got b*tch slapped by a re-tard at a basketball game!" in between howls of laughter.

So no, when I see people in Indianapolis wearing the old Indianapolis Puncher shirt made after the Auburn Hills Palace incident, I don't think of Ron Artest, I think of the "special" one and his five fingers who talked to my face and said....slap!!!



Chazz Speedman
02/07/2010 14:38

Hammer you've told me this story before and I laughed my ass off. I'm in tears once again bc you got bitch slapped by a retard. Like Rain Man. Although he bankrupted a casino.

Glad to see you're back blogging.


07/18/2012 16:55

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