Wednesday , Dec , 08 , 2004 C.Y. Ellis

Five Pacers charged in brawl

Auburn Hills, MI (Sports Network) – Five members of the Indiana Pacers and
several Detroit Pistons fans were charged Wednesday in the November 19 brawl
that took place at The Palace of Auburn Hills.

Forward Jermaine O’Neal was charged with two counts of misdemeanor assault and
battery, while Ron Artest, David Harrison, Anthony Johnson and Stephen Jackson
were all charged with one count of assault and battery.

The offense carries a maximum penalty of 93 days in jail and a fine of up to

Oakland County Prosecutor David Gorcyca announced the charges during an
afternoon news conference.

The fight involving spectators and players broke out near the end of the game
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.

After that, 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 with 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 several other players, and started
swinging away at the unruly fans.

Meanwhile, John Green, a season ticket holder, was charged with two counts of
misdemeanor assault and battery, one for throwing the cup at Artest that
sparked the melee and the other for throwing a punch at Artest when he was in
the stands.

Bryant Jackson, the fan accused of throwing a chair into the crowd, was
charged with one count of misdemeanor assault and battery and one count of
felony assault, which is punishable by up to four years in prison.

William Pawlson, another fan, will face one charge of misdemeanor assault
and battery for tossing a drink at Artest, while David Wallace, the brother
of Ben Wallace, was also charged with the same offense.

Two days after the disgraceful incident, NBA commissioner David Stern issued
harsh penalties. He suspended Artest for the remainder of the season, while
Jackson got a 30-game suspension and O’Neal 25 games. Ben Wallace received six
games and Johnson got suspended for five. Four players were also suspended for
one game each — Indiana’s Reggie Miller and Detroit’s Chauncey Billups, Elden
Campbell and Derrick Coleman.

The players’ union is appealing the suspensions of Artest, Jackson and O’Neal,
and a hearing is slated for Thursday in New York.