Artest getting the whole season sounds just right to me really. Kicking him out of the league forever is a bit overboard, but 30 games would have been a bit light in my mind. I don't think the league should stagger the suspensions either. These individuals let their team (and a lot of people) down, and NBA players should know that their actions could have far reaching implications. Of course the union will fight it, and this won't help the labor negotiations in the future, but they really don't have much to work with to defend these guys.
I still want to see what the standings look like after 20 games, but this will mark a monumental shift in the power structure of the East. The Pistons' fans that were involved in this, deplorable in their own right, may have played a hand in taking their toughest competitors out at the knees. It's still very early, but you can put Detroit and Miami in right now, Orlando is right there for as long as Grant can walk upright (yes, I'm rooting for him), the LeBron era of the NBA is building steam before our eyes, and then its everyone else.
Can the Pacers survive this? Their only shot is a little mix of the Ewing Theory and a lot of Bird magic. They'll have to make some moves because of this, maybe even a trade. Perhaps they'll rally around the remaing players and stay in it long enough for O'Neal to come back. If not, they'll be in the lottery and add even more talent to that team. One also has to wonder if Ron will ever wear a Pacers uni again.
While I have respected Ron's ability for a while now, I have lost more and more respect for him overall over the last few seasons, and he's bottomed out at this point. See ya buddy. Enjoy your music career.