Comparisons between Antonio Davis' foray into the United Center stands Wednesday night and what happened in the infamous Indiana-Detroit brawl were inevitable.
And invalid, according to Pacers CEO Donnie Walsh.
Walsh told ESPN.com Thursday that he saw Davis jumping the scorer's table and rushing to his wife's side in overtime of a heated Knicks-Bulls game as "a human reaction."
Walsh added that the Pacers -- who have long maintained that the league-imposed fines and suspensions meted out for their participation in the melee at The Palace of Auburn Hills on Nov. 19, 2004, were excessive -- are not expecting Davis to be punished similarly to Ron Artest, Stephen Jackson or Jermaine O'Neal, all of whom received long-term bans for their roles in the Detroit incident.
"I drafted Tony Davis [in 1993]," Walsh said. "And I was here when he got married to Kendra. I fully understand what he did -- and I think, in every other area of American life, if you look up there and somebody's pushing your wife, you're going to react to it.
"I would not be sitting here and saying Tony should have the same kind of punishment that Ron Artest got. I understand what happened there."
Davis, a 12-year veteran and president of the NBA Players Association, said he ran into the stands because he "witnessed my wife being threatened" by a nearby fan.
The confrontation is also likely to raise new concerns about security in NBA arenas, but Walsh said he has always found the United Center to be well-monitored and disputed the notion that the general level of security in the league's buildings is insufficient.
"I think we've all come to learn that security has to be very alert," he said. "Things like this happen so quick. Security has to be watching everything in a position where they can prevent [such incidents], but that's not as easy as it sounds. I don't think there's a fail-safe method [for providing security in the stands]. Every team has beefed it up [since the Indiana-Detroit brawl] and gone through [league-mandated] protocols."
Artest was suspended for the remainder of the season -- a total of 73 games -- after rushing into the stands at The Palace after a fan threw a drink on him. Jackson and O'Neal were suspended for 30 and 25 games, respectively, although O'Neal's ban was later reduced by 10 games.
Davis' actions in Chicago naturally prompted television stations around the country to re-air video of those scenes. Yet Walsh, as part of the Pacers' ongoing attempts to move past those episodes, said he'd "rather not talk about last year." The Pacers are still trying to trade Artest before the league's Feb. 23 trading deadline after months of unwavering support for the unpredictable defensive ace failed to prevent Artest's issuing a public demand on Dec. 10 to be traded.
Marc Stein is the senior NBA writer for ESPN.com. To e-mail him, click here.