Instead, he got nothing but a disqualification, peer scorn, a big $12,560 fine and now, possibly an arrest warrant from Scotland Yard.
You heard right. Possible arrest. For kicking an advertising board. For all his tantrums, histrionics and nastiness, John McEnroe can't touch this guy.
It's the Grand Slam of Petulance.
"We are aware of an incident at the AEGON Championships on June 17," a spokesman from Scotland Yard said hours after Nalbandian had walked off the court and line judge Andrew McDougall — who suffered a gooey gash at the top of his shin — hobbled ahead of him.
"A complaint has been made and the Metropolitan Police Service is now investigating. The allegation is of assault."
The logical assumption is that McDougall filed the complaint, but police did not disclose that, and British law allows for anyone who witnessed a criminal action to file it. Reports, though, indicated that much of the crowd was unaware of the bloodshed and also booed the disqualification — which apparently was automatic under ATP rules.
So, it's also logical to assume the complaint came from someone near the incident.
I get the fine. The disqualification seems a little rough, especially since the guy wasn't trying to take out the linesman, was angry at himself when he kicked the hoarding. But OK, rules are rules.
But a criminal investigation? Assault?
As Johnny Mac so often said — Seriously?
In that case, Scotland Yard better open up an entire wing to investigate all those fouls or near fouls that have elite soccer players rolling around on their backs like just-fed dogs at least a dozen times per game. Because unlike McDougall, who wobbled to his feet and toward the first-aid area soon afterward, those soccer guys appear near death until they are suddenly able to spring to their feet and rejoin the action like a superhero.
This must be a British Commonwealth thing. They like to open up criminal investigations in Canada, too, when their violence-defined national sport, hockey, becomes particularly violent. It's funny, too, because the defense of the sport's violence is strongest above the lower 48, yet the history of criminal charges for on-ice incidents is predominantly Canadian.
And rarely one that charges or investigates the hometown player.
Which leads to this question: When should it be OK for the cops to step in? Should it be OK at all? Did Zdeno Chara mean to fracture the back of Montreal's Max Pacioretty with his 2011 hit? Shouldn't the "investigation" by Montreal police that followed be immediately seen for what it was, a bit of tax-draining grandstanding? If Mike Tyson didn't get charged for biting off part of Evander Holyfield's ear, why should Nalbandian be charged for something that happened by accident?
Wasn't the fine and the forfeiture of a title and prize money enough?
"There is a lot of rules, and if I had to pay [for] what I did and it's like that, it's perfect, I agree," Nalbandian, an Argentine, said afterward. "I do a mistake and I apologize, and I feel very sorry to the guy. I didn't want to do that. But sometimes you get angry. Sometimes you cannot control that moments that many time happens. Well, to me. Maybe you throw a racket or maybe you scream or maybe you do something like that. So many things happen at that kind of moment?…
“Everybody do mistakes, right?"
Yes. And one last thing. I'm not saying that criminal charges at sporting events should never occur. Hoops and hockey players who go into the stands, the premeditated attacks like Todd Bertuzzi's ambush beating of Steve Moore or Marty McSorley's stick assault of Donald Brashear, those are indeed criminal acts. But there should be some universal criteria developed to dictate that intervention.
It should be about professional organized sports forcing themselves into the legal system. Not the system forcing itself into professional sports.
Cops should be cops. Not players. n
Contact Sam Donnellon at email@example.com. For recent columns, go to www.philly.com/SamDonnellon.