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  Sun, June 13, 2004


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Pumped over Pistons
But fans can take it too far
By BILL HARRIS, TORONTO SUN

Get a little perspective, moron. Yesterday, a Detroit talk-radio host actually asked rhetorically, "Given the Pistons' no-superstar approach, as opposed to the Lakers' two-man attack with Shaq and Kobe, wouldn't you rather have built your team like the Pistons?"

Uh, did you just fall off the turnip truck?

The Lakers, led in this era by Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant, have been to the NBA final four times in five years and won three titles in a row from 2000-2002. The Pistons, who are up 2-1 in this championship series, may be catching the Lakers at the end of their dynasty, but the boys from L.A. have done okay, you know?

Regardless, Detroit has gone berserk over the Pistons, who will play host to the Lakers in Game 4 tonight and in Game 5 on Tuesday.

The Pistons themselves are keeping their heads, but their fans are over the moon, displaying both lingering defensiveness and newfound arrogance.

INCIDENTS

That split-personality aspect of Pistons-mania has led to a few bizarre and nasty incidents.

Late-night comedian (we use that term loosely) Jimmy Kimmel had his show temporarily yanked in the Detroit area after he said in a halftime interview that the city would burn down if the Pistons won the title. Kimmel later apologized and said if the Lakers win the championship he's looking forward to overturning his own car.

On the eve of Game 3, police had to be called to stifle a large group of disruptive Pistons fans who had situated themselves across the street from the Lakers' hotel in Birmingham, Mich.

On the night of Game 3, a Pistons fan showed up at the Palace wearing full black-and-white-striped jailbird regalia, with a "Bryant" jersey over top. Bryant is facing rape charges in Colorado, but the gravity of that situation was lost upon Pistons supporters who lined up to have their pictures taken with the would-be convict.

Then just before Game 3, Lakers forward Karl Malone had an altercation with a courtside patron. Malone claimed he was spat upon and he poked a finger at the fan, who was removed by security. The fan subsequently contacted police, who are investigating the incident.

"There's a line that's being crossed," Malone said yesterday. "It's the NBA's responsibility to do something about that and they haven't done a good job.

"You're a fan. You have a right to do a lot of things, but some cross that line when they say things to family members. Hopefully that's not a reflection on the city or other fans. We're human beings and we do have family here, so those are difficult things. But that's the NBA's problem, not ours.

"They always say to us as athletes: 'Be good sports about what you're doing and respect people.' A lot of (fans) do that, but some don't and I guess it's the same with athletes as well. But I'm not losing any sleep over it."

Malone didn't say if the pain in his right knee, which limited him to 18 minutes in Game 3, had caused him to lose any sleep. Asked how his knee felt, Malone pulled a Vince Carter and responded: "It's a knee, man."

Lakers coach Phil Jackson said he might broach the subject of Malone riding a stationary bike to keep his knee warm when he's not on the court tonight, but Malone balked at the idea, not wanting to make a spectacle of himself. He already has been the star of an off-court sideshow, thanks to his flailing finger.

Malone admitted the Palace is a hostile building, but he remained defiant.

"It's loud, but so is my logging equipment and I don't wear ear plugs there, either," Malone said. "Just add some diesel fumes in here and that would be just right."

Don't give them any ideas.







Do you like the new-look Raptors heading into the 2013-14 NBA season?
  Yes, new GM made great moves
  No, they will still be a terrible team
  Unsure what to make of it


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