DENVER - League Commissioner David Stern will introduced the NBA's new security guidelines at a press conference that will kick start the all-star weekend. Called the Player Threat Alert (PTA), the guidelines will get a thorough test run at this weekend's festivities.
Wearing a Larry Bird throwback jersey, Stern told reporters: "The PTA will warn fans of their likelihood of being attacked by basketball players whom they provoke with various kinds of obnoxious behavior. Every team in the league will be required to post the alert next to urinals, at beer vendors' stands, and on arena scoreboards.
The NBA's decision was prompted by a November melee at the end of the Detroit Pistons-Indiana Pacers game. A donnybrook ensued after the Pacers 6-foot-7, 245-pound forward Ron Artest had charged into the stands in pursuit of a fan who had thrown a drink on him.
"We are instituting the PTA because we want our fans and their families to feel safe no matter what sort of rude, boorish behavior they might choose to exhibit," said Stern.
"After all, they pay good money for their seats."
The commissioner announced that the league had set the initial PTA at yellow-Don't Spit on Players. This level was selected, he explained, because the current, mid-level tension among players makes them likely to attack fans who spit on them. Therefore, fans are discouraged from spitting on players and, of course, from indulging in orange- or red-level behavior: mooning players or throwing drinks on them. Fans are still welcome to indulge in blue- and/or green-level behavior: hurling racial epithets at players and singing the Bye-Bye song after the outcome of a contest has been decided.
Besides posting the threat alert, teams will be expected to observe additional rules designed to protect fans. Only two alcoholic beverages can be sold to a player during a game; beverage size must be restricted to 24 ounces; and no alcoholic beverage can be served to a player after the start of the fourth quarter. The code further prohibits "disruptive behavior, including foul or abusive language or obscene gestures on the part of players (except to one another) and obscene or indecent messages on headbands and/or uniforms."
In related news, the Detroit Pistons will hold a fan appreciation night on Friday February 25. The first 5,000 fans with lower-level seats to enter the Pistons arena that night will receive weighted, 32-ounce plastic drinking cups and ten free-beer vouchers.