Near the end of the Knicks' 106-104 loss to the Bulls last night, prodigiously huge forward Antonio Davis gave every sportswriter in the country something to talk about by charging into the crowd. Davis wasn't hit in the face by a beer, nor was he made the victim of verbal abuse or a racial epithet. He just wanted to protect his wife, who was being pestered by a drunken Bulls fan.

Davis crowd 2
Davis menaces the Chicago crowd. In an unrelated story,
several fans in section C peed themselves last night .

This wasn't an eruption of Artestian proportions, since Davis didn't throw any punches or even put his hands on anybody. In fact, most people seem to think that Davis did the right thing because, after all, he was only protecting his family. Anybody would do the same thing, right? Chicago Sun Times columnist Jay Mariotti praised Davis and said he shouldn't be fined for his intrusion on the crowd. While acknowledging that the incident was "disturbing," and admitting that Antonio's wife, Kendra, is a bit of a fruitcake (she once got into an "animated" shouting match with choke artist Latrell Sprewell), Mariotti thinks that sports fans have proven themselves so dangerous that players can't trust security to keep things from getting ugly.

Here's the thing, though: security personnel are there for a reason. There's only about a dozen of them, so no: they won't be able to watch all of the 20,000+ fans individually, no matter how rude or obnoxious they may be. But do we expect our police officers to keep track of every single person in our city? No. We expect them to patrol the streets and come to our aid when we call them. Building security is no different. If Davis was so worried, he should have asked one of the security guards (many of which were nearby) to take care of the situation. Instead, he dove in headfirst. And while he didn't assault anybody, he's going to face an almost certain suspension, because the
NBA has a zero-tolerance policy against players entering the crowd.

Antonio knew that, of course. Particularly since last year's
Malice At The Palice set such a vivid precedent. But we're supposed to cut him slack because, hey, family comes first in this country. Well, there's another aspect to this story. Davis' wife was being heckled by one drunken fan. She herself was attending the game with "a large group of friends and family." I don't know about you, but unless that drunken fan is Bruce Willis, my money's on the large group over the one drunk guy. By the way, that's a "large group" who had security at their beck and call if they'd wanted it.

Davis crowd 1
"Don't mind me. I'm just here to kill you."

Here's what I think. If Kendra is the kind of woman who'd pick a fight with a professional athlete who once tried to murder his own coach, she's also the kind of woman who would escalate a fight with a fan at a basketball game. I've been threatened at live events before, and it's amazing how fast security reacts when you draw their attention to somebody who's acting like an asshole. My guess is she didn't want any help. She wanted to take the guy down a peg, and the argument got heated, as arguments often do.

Keep in mind, too, that the fan never touched her or made even a single overt threat to her. They were arguing. Loudly, probably profanely, but it was just an argument. No sticks or stones or broken bones were involved. The only thing Antonio could have saved her from was hurt feelings. He could have done that once they got home by giving her some warm milk and a nap.

It's too bad we don't have a newspaper publisher like
J. Jonah Jameson, because we'd probably get great Daily Bugle headlines like "Antonio Davis: Threat or Menace," or "Antonio Davis and Mysterio Rob Bank." That's as believable as the idea that Davis' actions are justified because his family was involved, and a lot more entertaining.

Jerktastic Extra: In his column, Mariotti described Davis as "one of the most pleasant, mild-mannered souls in the league." I tend to think otherwise. During his stay in
Chicago, Davis was a member of my health club, Life Time Fitness. While I myself never had the courage to approach this giant man, Basketbawfulite Pug did. The exchange went something like this:
Pug: "Are you Antonio Davis?"
Davis: "Yeah, what's it to ya?"
Pug: "What are you doin' here?"
Davis: "I'm just tryin' to live my life. That okay with you?!
Pug: "... [sound of involuntary bladder release]"
Are these the actions of a pleasant man? I'll let you be the judge. (But here's a hint: no.)