Maybe I ought to pick a theme a week and beat it to death. I'm still not finished with Abortion, but I've been having too much fun planning my Thanksgiving and being disgusted with David Stern.
Is there a racial component to this discussion? That depends on how large it is. I think people who consider this matter as an extremely horrible situation for the NBA are influenced by race. I think most sound minded people see it as a brawl and little more.
Race plays into this at this level only because of the world historical hype that has put an exclamation point behind every adjective. As soon as you start talking 'image of the NBA' then you are talking race. It is inevitable and unaviodable to deal with race if you desire to manage that public perception of a national sports league. Scale it down, and it's a big fistfight between assholes that got nationally televised and talked to death. Scale it up and race is just as legitimate an issue as anything else.
Before this incident, most people never heard of Ron Artest. So how suddenly is he the face of the NBA? Only because he fits a racial stereotype. Nobody has asked Artest to conform to the behavior of anyone other than black role models. He's not Robert Parrish and he has nothing to prove to America, he's just another pro athlete.