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NBA, Artest Blames NHL for Pacers-Pistons Brawl
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NEW YORK, New York - Legal counsel for suspended Pacers' player Ron Artest announced Sunday his intention to seek an appeal of the season's suspension through the player's union. "We see the fault for Friday's fracas lying squarely at the feet of the NHL," explained Zephram Crocker, Artest's attorney, "Without hockey, players and fans alike lack an outlet for their bloodlust. Naturally, if they can't abuse guys on the ice, their attention will be drawn to guys on the court. By allowing the lockout to continue, the NHL is practically guaranteeing more violence in other venues. We don't think this mitigating factor was considered by Mr. Stern in handing down suspensions."

"Nobody ever said, 'I went to a fight and a basketball game broke out.'"
-- David Stern, NBA Commissioner
"I wouldn't call the NHL lockout a 'mitigating factor'," responded David Stern, NBA Commissioner, "It is certainly unfortunate for the sport of hockey. And granted, nobody ever said, 'I went to a fight and a basketball game broke out,' but that hardly excuses the reprehensible behavior of our players and fans."

Players' union director Billy Hunter agreed that the NHL lockout should be considered. "We believe Mr. Crocker's argument is on point," Hunter acknowledged, "Maybe if the XFL had worked out -- and believe me, nobody expected that -- there would have been another way for everybody to work this out of their systems. With hockey off the card, something was going to blow. It was just a matter of time."

NHL representatives were unwilling to comment, only pointing out that no suits have been filed against them and they are not aware of any pending litigation bearing on the matter.

"Just give us a little time," said Crocker, "They'll have more 'pending litigation' than they can shake a high-stick at it."
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