One of the things that's admittedly hilarious about American sports is that we think we know what's a truly horrible team situation. Like the Knicks. They have a terrible owner, a terrible coach, a crazy point guard, no cap space until 2087, and they had to pay a woman employee more than $11 million because of a sexual harrassment lawsuit invloving the crappy coach. And to top it all off, the owner says the coach's job is totally safe.
All of those examples scream that the Knicks are a team is in disarray. Well, sort of.
Let's go somewhere else - like Serbia for instance - where team disarray is a bit different.
Last Friday, four high-ranking team officials of the soccer club Red Star Belgrade (which sounds more like a guerilla movement than a team), were detained by authorities. And as of Sunday, they've all been sentenced to 30 days in jail - and could go away for much longer than that. So why were they detained? Well, they failed to stop a riot that left a police officer nearly dead.
During the first weekend of December at a league match at Red Star's stadium, the fans attacked a plainclothes policeman trying to film them in the stands. The policeman fired shots in the air to keep the attackers at bay, but it didn't quite work. Several fans were arrested after beating up the cop, including one charged with attempted manslaughter.
But here's the important thing to remember. This happened right in the middle of the game, and to top it all off, Red Star Belgrade is accused of letting fans bring flares into the game, which were used during the attack. But since fan violence is frequent at Serbian stadiums, Red Star Belgrade said forget about it, and just decided to keep playing while the cop was being beaten up and flares were going off. Fantastic, where I can get tickets to the next game?
Since Red Star Belgrade actually allowed fans to bring in illegal flares, and a policeman got the business, the police were naturally a tad upset when everything was over. In fact, this situation is the first time team officials have ever been detained in Serbia as a result of fan violence.
But why in God's name would Red Star Belgrade allow fans to bring flares into the stadium? Good question. And here's the answer.
The pro-government Politika daily newspaper said the riots were inspired by Red Star officials to sidetrack a police investigation into their alleged links with organized crime and murky deals in the sale of at least 15 Red Star players to foreign teams.
Well, of course. What else were they going to do? Offer free bobble-head dolls to fans? Actually tell police the truth? Please.
So in other words, the next time you're at a Knicks game, remember it could be much worse. You could have Isiah arrested at mid-court and have a flare stuck in your ear while Nate Robinson bricks another dunk.