Thursday , Sep , 22 , 2005 C.Y. Ellis

Pacers involved in fight expected to get probation

Detroit, MI (Sports Network) – The members of the Indiana Pacers charged in
connection with a November 2004 brawl at the Palace of Auburn Hills are
expected to avoid jail time.

According to a report in USA Today, prosecutors will likely request probation
and community service rather than having the players spend time in jail.

On Friday, Ron Artest, Stephen Jackson and Jermaine O’Neal are scheduled to
appear in front of Judge Lisa Asadoorian in a suburban Detroit court for a
pre-trial hearing.

The paper stated that the prosecution has asked that the three players seek
probation and roughly 50 hours of community service each due to the fact that
none of them have a prior criminal history and nobody suffered any serious
injuries during the incident.

If community service is required, there is a possibility that it could be
accomplished by working in clinics for children in Michigan and Indiana.

There were two other Pacers involved in the melee and both will also likely
avoid jail time. Guard Anthony Johnson has already pleaded no-contest to an
assault charge in a pre-trial hearing on September 16, while center David
Harrison is scheduled for his hearing on October 3.

The infamous brawl involving spectators and players broke out near the end of
the November 19 game between the Pacers and Pistons after an on-court dispute
over a foul.

The contest was stopped with 45 seconds left in the fourth quarter and Indiana
was credited with a 97-82 victory. With the Pacers ahead by 15 points,
things unraveled when Ben Wallace was fouled by Artest and the Pistons’
center took exception to what he deemed a hard foul and gave Artest a two-
handed push to the face.

The pushing and shoving continued by the scorers’ table as players came off
both benches. The Detroit fans then lost control and began throwing cups
filled with liquid and ice at Artest, who was surprisingly staying out of
harm’s way on top of the scorers’ table. Artest was hit in the head by a
flying cup and immediately raced into the stands and started punching whom he
thought was the culprit.

Jackson followed into the crowd, along with other players, and started
swinging away at the unruly fans.

Two days after the disgraceful incident, NBA commissioner David Stern issued
harsh penalties, including the suspension of Artest for the remainder of the
season. In addition, the NBA issued a revised set of arena guidelines to all
teams. The guidelines consisted of policies dealing with security, alcohol
sales and fan behavior.