Game #9-045: San Diego State at Missouri State BearsNovember 17, 2012 2:05 pm
I don't often feel the urge to punch people in the face. In fact, I actively pride myself in being the kind of mild-mannered person who never lets anything irritate him. Never too happy, never too sad, never too high, never too low, I let most anything roll off my shoulders.
On Saturday, I wanted to punch a lot of people in the face.
They all happened to sit behind me, in the first row of JQH Arena. They were all Missouri State fans, but that doesn't have a whole lot to do with the story. Sure, in this particular scenario, my qualms are with MSU people, but the kind of shenanigans I'm about to explain happens at every single gym in every single geographical territory of college basketball.
First, some background: Before the game even started, the fans weren't very fond of San Diego State, a team making its first and only trip this season to the central time zone. "West coast snobs," somebody says. That's a phrase repeated over and over again, all the way until the final buzzer of SDSU's victory. As the game wore on, though, it got worse. This was, by my estimate, one of the most physical and heated games I've ever personally witnessed. There were fouls all over the place. People tumbling to the ground. At one point, Jamaal Franklin -- a major trash-talker who just loved to get under the skin of everybody on the court -- got tossed to the floor during a layup attempt. Words were exchanged, people yelled, and a brawl looked imminent.
I was rooting for it, because I thought if I recorded it on my camera phone, I might people able to get the brawl video to go viral on YouTube.
That didn't happen, but Franklin kept finding himself in the middle of trouble. Whether officials called the foul on him or on his defender, he always somehow ended up colliding with a Missouri State player and falling on the floor. Then, he'd usually get up and flash an ironic smile at nobody in particular, almost as though this were all just a hilarious game to him. Hey, he finished with a double-double and won MWC Player of the Year honors a year ago, so he can basically do whatever he wants. He got in more trouble late in the second half when he hacked Keith Pickens on a fastbreak layup. Officials called him for a flagrant, and he actually ran over to MSU coach Paul Lusk and apologized. I'd never seen that before.
Still, maybe you're beginning to understand exactly what happened at the Q on Saturday. Franklin was at the center of controversy and became Public Enemy Number One. The fans booed him on every single possession in the waning minutes of the second half. It was ugly.
So, now that you're familiar with the situation, let me explain to you why I wanted to punch these people in the face behind me.
Yes, Franklin's play was irritating. I wasn't necessarily rooting for either team, but I can see how a Missouri State may interpret his trash talking and physical play as malicious. But that doesn't excuse the things I heard behind me. Possession after possession, somebody stood up and screamed something at Franklin. "THUG!" That's the most common word I heard. I've always thought the word had racial connotations, but that's a story for another time. Another woman said "his momma better be ashamed," and another woman responded to that by saying "his momma didn't raise him right." They told him he was playing thug basketball, that he was a West Coast snob, that he was essentially the worst person in the world. Franklin wasn't the only target, either. Somebody screamed to Chase Tapley that he better play with more class next time.
"Y'all started it," he responded. Funny how once the player starts talking, the fan usually shuts up.
Again, you've all been to basketball games. This happens probably 100 times a game, at every game in America, on every single night in every single arena during every single season. They're hecklers. I'm not saying these Missouri State fans were any different than anybody else, but I wanted to punch them in the face because they had absolutely no idea what they were talking about.
Jamaal Franklin might be a jerk. He might also be the nicest guy in the world. I've never personally met him, so I can't say for sure. I do know that in the post-game press conference, he seemed appallingly down-to-earth and, as the kids say, "chill." He didn't seem at all like the guy who was out there trash talking and jawing at everybody on the floor. I have no idea if that means he's a nice guy or a bad dude or whatever, but I'm just saying that he seemed a lot different in an interview setting than on the court. He seemed like a good guy.
That's my point. All these people sitting behind me calling him a thug, telling him his mom did a poor job raising him, talking about him like he's Satan, they've just never met him. People like this need to get over themselves. Rightfully so, officials did call Franklin for a flagrant on that layup attempt, but I don't think it was like he was trying to kill the guy. That was my impression, at least. The guy likes to talk, probably too much, but that's just how he plays.
MSU's Anthony Downing said it best after the game.
"I guess that's what they do out on the West Coast."
The fans out there on the coast talk trash, too, just like the players. None of this is earth-shattering stuff. I just really wanted to punch these people in the face. It's all just my built-up aggression from being too mild-mannered all the time, probably.
Maybe I need to start talking some trash myself.