We saw this bit of news on Twitter a little while ago, and now an AP story on SI.com confirms it: Mississippi State’s Renardo Sidney fought with a teammate in the stands on Thursday night just moments before the tipoff of the Hawaii vs Utah game at the Diamond Head Classic. According to the linked article (and the video below, of course), punches were thrown and Sidney was escorted out by police. No arrests were made.
Sidney’s opponent in this particular scrap was junior forward Elgin Bailey. Earlier in the day, Sidney had scored 19 points and pulled six rebounds in just 20 minutes of action in the Bulldogs’ 69-52 win over San Diego, playing in just his second game for MSU. Bailey had two points and eight boards in 21 minutes of play.
Susan Shan, a sportswriter covering the tournament and proprietor of SusanShan.com, posted an eyewitness account from a person associated with the team who saw the buildup to the fight as well as the aftermath. In the account she received from this witness, while the reasons for the squabble were rather trifling, Bailey appears to be more in the wrong, and may have even tried to attack an officer.
Sidney was suspended by head coach Rick Stansbury for Mississippi State’s game against Washington State on Wednesday because of an “outburst” of Sidney’s during the team’s practice on Tuesday. While there have been no official details emerge as to the reason for the fight in the stands on Thursday — we admit, no matter why it started, we can’t think of many things that would justify a brawl in the stands with a teammate — it doesn’t really matter who’s found to be at fault in the end. It cannot be ignored that, since joining the squad, Sidney now has as many behavioral gaffes as games under his belt. Sidney is bound to again face punishment from Stansbury, if not an outright removal from the team. Forget why the fight happened — the point is that it happened at all, and that Sidney, just off a disciplinary action, is seen throwing punches in the stands at a person — a teammate who is on the ground, mind you — in full view of spectators and TV cameras.
This thing brings to mind those awful images from the infamous Pacers-Pistons atrocity exhibition (the Malice in the Palace) from 2004, one of the lowest moments in American professional sports. True, the court/crowd barrier was never broken in this case — or was it? Whether they’re on the playing surface or sitting in the stands, athletes are representatives their schools, and we wonder how many invites to the Diamond Head Classic that Mississippi State will be receiving in the upcoming years.
Obviously we should all reserve final judgment until the full details are known, or at least until Stansbury comments on this issue. We’ll update the story as details emerge.