I’ve watched all the videos being shared online on the Riyadi and Sagesse fight in Game 4 and I reassert what I said yesterday that the federation and those in charge of organizing the games are the ones to blame first and foremost.
Nevertheless, mistakes happen and fights do erupt even in the NBA and the Euro League and for that sake, teams and players should be fined for breaking the rules. Having said that, let’s go back to how the fight started based on what the videos have shown:
1- Sagesse were winning by 9 points with few seconds left and Spencer (Hekmeh) had the ball, yet instead of just waiting for the seconds to go, he went and dunked the basketball which is considered as an unsportsmanlike conduct specially that no one was defending him anymore. Loren Woods (Riyadi) came close as he was upset about the dunk, both started arguing and Spencer slightly pushes Woods away. This is where Chris Daniel comes in for some reason and pushes Woods, then all the fans start invading the court to cheer for their team. If you look closely, Woods took some hits from nearby fans as he was being pulled out.
2- As fans were all over the field, one of them goes straight at Ismail and hits him for some reason and this is very obvious in more than a video. That’s where Ismail lost it and ran after him, kicked him and started beating fans left and right. At this moment, things went out of control and 3 of Riyadi’s players found themselves fighting with undisciplined fans.
3- Few minutes later, Riyadi players were escorted out of Ghazir by the Lebanese Army.
This being said, here’s what the Lebanese Basketball Federation should do in my opinion:
- Only 500 Sagesse and Riyadi Fans will be allowed to watch the remaining games.
- All the fans that were involved in the brawl should be banned from the next 15 games. Both teams should help identify the individuals involved in Game 4 and the previous 3 games.
- Ismail Ahmad should be banned for 1 game for going after a fan and hitting him. Just to be clear, I don’t think any of the other Riyadi players should be banned or fined because they were surrounded by tens of fans and got involved unwillingly in the brawl. Ismail on the other hand went after one of them and even though I admire him as a player, it’s an unacceptable behavior.
- Riyadi and Sagesse teams should be fined for letting fans inside the court once the game is over. The Federation should issue a clear statement that no fans are allowed inside the court at any time during the game or while the teams are still on the court.
- The Federation should force all Lebanese basketball teams to register their fans with all the required details. This will help identify trouble makers when a fight erupt.
- If religious or racist chants are heard in any of the games, the team shall be fined and fans behind the chants banned from attending 5 games.
- ANY team who threatens to withdraw from the championship at this point will be banned next year.
We’ve had enough of these stupid fights and some of the comments that I heard following the game were disgusting and sick. These fans are not basketball fans and shouldn’t be allowed in. It is the responsibility of the team and the federation to put the game above all, and take necessary and pro-active measures.