Will the Women Get Equal Time?

Sparks-Shock fight

The WNBA wants attention, but not this kind.

The WNBA wants equality. Now we’ll find out just how equal it is.

Malice in the Palace II – otherwise know as a friendly brawl between two of the league’s marquee teams and featuring certainly its two biggest stars – only failed to replicate its ugly predecessor because none of the mess spilled into the stands. Otherwise, it was just as ugly and just as dumb and unnecessary.

With just seconds left in the Los Angeles Sparks‘ game against the Detroit Shock, star rookie Candace Parker became entangled with Detroit’s Plenette Pierson as both women attempted to block out on the free-throw line. Parker fell to the floor whereupon, it was on.

Parker bounced up but was tackled by Deanna Nolan, and in the madness Shock assistant coach Rick Mahorn (known as McNasty during his days with the Pistons; or was he McFilthy?) appeared to shove Sparks center Lisa Leslie, the league’s other shining star, to the court in an effort to be peacemaker. Moments later, the Sparks’ DeLisha Milton-Jones whacked Mahorn in the back.

The Sparks won the game 84-81, but this was a big L for a league that champions itself as role models for young women and a haven for pro athletes who would otherwise have to play overseas.

Only because the fight did not spill into the stands will the penalties not be equal to Malice I. No one will be suspended for the remainder of the season, as was Ron Artest. No one will likely receive the 30- and 25-game suspensions tagged on Stephen Jackson and Jermaine O’Neal, respectively.

The severity of their penalties was due, in part, to prior incidents and the insidiousness of the brawl. But don’t be surprised if WNBA commissioner Donna Orender, in her most challenging moment yet, hammers down in a way reminiscent of the sanctions levied in the wake of the Fight Night at The Garden two years ago when the Nuggets and Knicks went at it.

In that incident, Nuggets forward Carmelo Anthony was suspended 15 games, while six other players were suspended between one and 10 games. The franchises were also fined $500,000 each.

Multiple-game suspensions may be levied against Parker and perhaps Mahorn, and the teams could be fined heavily as well.

All things being equal.

The timing of the incident also stings because the Sparks will make their only New York-area appearance this season on Friday night at Madison Square Garden. Chances are the penalties will be announced and levied prior to that game, meaning Parker will not be in uniform.

Not exactly how the NBA’s sister league was hoping to showcase its brightest new light.


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