NBA Basketball took another black eye tonight. The Indiana Pacers were playing the defending champion Detroit Pistons in Auburn Hills, Michigan. With less than a minute to go in the game Ben Wallace took offense at a hard foul and shoved Ron Artest. A series of scuffles between the teams undulated before the scorer’s table. A moment of seeming calm as Artest lay out upon the scorer’s table. Then a blue cup flew through the sky, tossed from the stands and hit Artest as he lay resting.

Then the explosion occurred. Artest charged into the stands and fought a fan. Other fans and players joined and the seeds of a riot began to bloom. The melee quickly escalated with fans charging the floor, players hopping through the stands. A cacophony of bodies and objects filled the stadium as mayhem took hold. As they attempted to shepard players out of the stadiums fans tossed chairs, beer, bottles, clothing, and food. The police threatened to mace players, a Pacer came from the locker-room brandishing a dustpan and swung towards the stands, and a sense of permanent change enclosed the NBA.

The soul-searching and legal maneuvering has already begun. The pundits are debating, yet again, the, at times, unhealthy relationship between fans and the players they in equal parts idolize and despise. Announcer and NBA Hall of Famer Bill Walton called it the lowest moment in his 30 year affiliation with the league.


The recently announced merger between Sears and Kmart may have surprised casual observers, but what the world is seeing today is the latest in a string of increasingly aggressive maneuvers by Eddie Lampert. Lampert, 42, runs ESL Investments Inc, a $9billion investment firm.

His investment philosophy is largely modeled after his hero, Warren Buffett. Like Buffet Lampert looks for undervalued companies he can easily understand, takes large stakes in them, and then runs them as a de-facto arm of management. Unlike Buffett he looks for companies that have been poorly managed which he believes offers him greater opportunity for returns. In the early 1960’s Warrren Buffett took a stake in a struggling textile company called Berkshire Hathaway Inc. Buffett filed regulatory papers that would allow him to invest excess cash from the company in a variety of ventures. Berkshire Hathaway is now one of the largest investment companies on the planet and the actions of its chairman can sway entire markets. Likewise Lampert took a 53% stake in Kmart, a company that had recently come out of bankruptcy and was decidedly mismanaged. In August of this year the Kmart’s board gave Lampert authority to invest "surplus cash" and his Berkshire Hathaway was in place.

Much of Lampert’s drive is illustrated by the kidnapping that occurred in 2002 while in the middle of negotiations for Kmart. A couple of hapless criminals grabbed him and held him hostage. He literally negotiated his way out of it, promising future payments to the kidnappers. Two days later he was working on closing the deal for Kmart.

Sears’s stock has been moving up sharply in recent weeks, largely because of the perceived value and the shareholders who had taken stakes. Today’s announcement of the combined companies is considered by most watchers to be an indication that Lampert’s new company, Sears Holdings Corp, has its sights set on another target, Wal-Mart. This time not as a takeover candidate but as a retail rival.