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11-21-2004, 03:22 AM
NBA still reeling from Friday night's brawl
/ Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) - Indiana's Ron Artest, Jermaine O'Neal and Stephen Jackson, and Detroit's Ben Wallace were suspended indefinitely by the NBA on Saturday for taking part in one of the ugliest brawls in U.S. sports history, a fight with fans that commissioner David Stern called "shocking, repulsive and inexcusable."

The exact length of the four players' bans could be announced as early as Sunday.

However, Ben Maller and Chris Landry of Fox Sports Radio have learned from Pistons play-by-play man Fred McLeod that the NBA plans to suspend Artest for 30 games.

Additionally, Fox Sports Radio reports O'Neal and Jackson will both get 20-game suspensions. Wallace, on the other hand, will miss just five games.

League officials and police were examining videotapes of Friday night's melee and interviewing witnesses. The NBA issued a statement saying it was reviewing rules and security procedures "so that fans can continue to attend our games unthreatened by events such as the ones that occurred last night."

Artest, O'Neal and Jackson - who all threw punches at fans in the stands or on the court at the end of the nationally televised Pacers-Pistons game - began serving their suspensions Saturday. Indiana, limited to just six players because of the suspensions and injuries, dropped an 86-83 decision to Orlando.

Wallace's suspension will start at home Sunday night against Charlotte, the next game for the reigning NBA champion Pistons.

"I didn't start it. I just played the game," Wallace said Saturday before learning of his suspension. "The league is going to do whatever they feel needs to be done, and I don't have no problems with that."

Pacers players did not immediately comment Saturday, but team CEO Donnie Walsh issued a statement saying, "responsibility for Friday night's action can be shared by many."

Pistons CEO Tom Wilson said the team plans to use "playoff-level security" starting with Sunday's game, doubling the number of armed police and increasing other arena security personnel by about 25 percent.

The brawl was particularly violent, with Artest and Jackson bolting into the stands near center court and throwing punches at fans after debris was tossed at the players.

Later, fans who came onto the court were punched in the face by Artest and O'Neal.

"We'll put it all together, take it to the Oakland County prosecutor's office and have them review it and they'll decide if there are any charges," Auburn Hills Deputy Chief Jim Mynsberge said.

"The whole fiasco could take weeks to decide," Oakland County Prosecutor David Gorcyca said.

G. William Hunter, the executive director of the NBA Players' Association, apologized to fans for the events of Friday night.

"We are in the process of consulting with our players, league officials and others in an effort to determine all of the facts," Hunter said in a statement. "No one can condone the level of incitement and violence we all witnessed."

The next game between Indiana and Detroit is Dec. 25 at Indianapolis. The rivals, who met in the Eastern Conference finals last season, won't play each other in Auburn Hills, Mich., again until March 25.

The melee was the talk of the league Saturday. Violence at NBA arenas is rare, even among the few franchises - such as Detroit - that draw a more rough-and-tumble crowd to courtside seats than in other cities.

"I was in total shock. Unbelievable," said Mike Montgomery, who oversees security at Staples Center in Los Angeles. "You never expect something like that to happen. You prepare and train for an incident like that, but you never expect it."

Wallace began the fracas by delivering a hard, two-handed shove to Artest after Wallace was fouled on a drive to the basket with 45.9 seconds remaining. After the fight ended, the referees called off the remainder of the game. Pacers players were pelted with drinks, popcorn and other debris as they rushed to the locker room.

"This demonstrates why our players must not enter the stands, whatever the provocation or poisonous behavior of people attending the games," Stern said in his statement. "Our investigation is ongoing, and I expect it to be completed by tomorrow evening."

The most recent example of an NBA player going into the stands and punching a fan came in February 1995, when Vernon Maxwell of the Houston Rockets pummeled a spectator in Portland. The league suspended him for 10 games and fined him $20,000.

Among the harshest non-drug-related penalties in NBA history was a one-year suspension of Latrell Sprewell - later reduced to 68 games - for choking Golden State Warriors coach P.J. Carlesimo at practice.

Kermit Washington of the Los Angeles Lakers drew a 60-day (26-game) suspension in 1977 for a punch that broke the jaw of the Houston Rockets' Rudy Tomjanovich during a game, while Dennis Rodman was suspended 11 games for kicking a courtside cameraman in the groin and six games for head-butting a referee.

Artest was benched for two games this month for asking Pacers coach Rick Carlisle for time off because of a busy schedule that included promoting a rap album.

Artest was suspended twice by the NBA last season, once for leaving the bench during a fracas at a Pacers-Celtics playoff game; the other for elbowing Portland's Derek Anderson. During the 2002-03 season, Artest was suspended five times by the NBA and once by the Pacers for a total of 12 games.

Artest also once grabbed a television camera and smashed it to the ground after a loss to the Knicks two years ago.

"People are putting all the burden on Artest, and I don't think that's fair," Houston coach Jeff Van Gundy said. "He's an easy target because of all the things he's been through. But some fans have gotten to a point where they think they can do or say anything."

Toronto coach Sam Mitchell said: "Do I think the fans should share some of the blame? Yeah. But as professionals, as NBA players, you cannot go into the stands."

The initial skirmish wasn't all that bad, with Artest retreating to the scorer's table and lying atop it after Wallace sent him reeling backward.

But when a fan tossed a cup at Artest, he stormed into the stands, throwing punches as he climbed over seats.

"He was on top of me, pummeling me," fan Mike Ryan of Clarkston said. "He asked me, 'Did you do it? I said, 'No, man. No!"'

Jackson joined Artest and threw punches at fans, who punched back. At one point, a chair was tossed into the fray.

Security personnel and ushers tried to break it up. Former Pistons player Rick Mahorn, who was seated courtside as a Detroit radio analyst, also stepped in.

"After the initial encounter on the court, the players were under control. As fans quickly became involved, the situation escalated," Walsh said. "More specifically, the safety of everyone present was compromised, and that is of great concern for us."

Two of the nine people treated for injuries were taken to a hospital, police said. Detectives planned to collect and analyze video footage, interview witnesses and examine medical records.

Bobcats guard Steve Smith isn't concerned about playing at the Palace on Sunday.

"Nah. No worries," Smith said. "It wasn't us in Detroit."

11-21-2004, 03:50 AM
If this is true, then it's a shame, mainly because Jackson acted more the fool than Artest...I can't believe the League would do something quite this drastic, but if it helps remedy the situation than let us proceed.

The fans took advantage of an emotionally-charged situation and are initially to blame for the maylay...goddamn this thing just disgusts me and I would like it over...

Wallace's suspension sounds right as does Jackson's, but O'Neal should only get about 10-games and Artest about 15 max...Oh well.

11-21-2004, 10:36 AM
"He was on top of me, pummeling me," fan Mike Ryan of Clarkston said. "He asked me, 'Did you do it? I said, 'No, man. No!"'

Jackson joined Artest and threw punches at fans, who punched back. At one point, a chair was tossed into the fray. "

It looks like Artest made a mistake again. By running up into the stands he made himself the village idiot. Fan now has money coming to him. Artest with his history should be on a very short leash.. maybe even done for the season. He's really an out of control guy. Even worse than Sprewell (sp).

No fans should be on the floor, but players are not entitled to hit them either.. silly.. there was no reason for the guy on the floor to get hit. What the hell was the fan thinking?

Self defense is a weak defense... you don't have to run into the stands to "defend" yourself.

Makes the nba interesting again, but at what price?

11-21-2004, 12:35 PM
You certainly don't have to run into the stands to defend youyrself, but Artest fued with the two fans on the court is certainly justified in my eyes...The fans CANNOT be on the court, just as the players CANNOT be in the stands. J. O'Neal is a different matter...

Sprewell is just an idiot anymore, not really a danger to anyone. Artest does seem to have a very short fuse.

11-21-2004, 12:39 PM
On the court maybe.. but what the video shows is an idiot fan hopping around.. not throwing a beer or punch.. There's no excuse for Artest to hit him at that point. Guards could have ejected the guy.. Short fat guy was no real threat to the Hulk Artest..

Makes the nba interesting now. Like J Jackson flashing her stuff on tv.. draws attention.. ha..

11-21-2004, 04:17 PM
I don't think you understand. With all that was going on, wearing those pistons jerseys, buy just bring on the court, they were a threat.

We don't know what was said by the TWO guys that made Artest hesitate and then attack...they were on his domain, his house so to speak...they were intruders and looked hostile enough to be dealt with...he's not justified for it, but I understand it more than attacking the fans in the crowd, which is wholly inexcusable.

Ben Hansen
11-21-2004, 04:38 PM
I don't blame Ron Artest or Jermaine O'Neal for beating the crap out of that idiot fan who ran onto the court at all. He should have gotten worse, in my opinion. He ran out, squared off with Ron Aretst (6-7, 250) and the little Hobbit in the Pistons jersey got knocked the F out. What did he think was going to happen. All I can say is that he is very lucky that Jermaine O'Neal slipped on the water on the court or he would still be out.

My suspensions would be these:

Stephen Jackson - 10 games (defending a teammate against a dozen fans)
Ron Artest - 10 games (I certainly don't blame him for going after some of those morons ... but he still shouldn't have done it)
Jermaine O'Neal - ONE (1) game (defending a teammate ON the court - deal with it, fans)
Ben Wallace - 5 games - started the whole thing by being a wuss when he barely got fouled.
David Stern - One million dollar fine for being a jackass and not going to bat more for his players. The FANS are 99% to blame for all of that mess to begin with.
Every Indiana Player Who DIDN'T Get Involved - $10,000 fine (defend your teammates if someone comes on the court)

I find this whole thing very distressing. Because if it was Tim Duncan who went into the crowd he would have received a freakin' commendation for bravery and a very, very minimal fine. All because he's a "nice guy" with no priors on his record.

Ron Artest is getting completely bent over right now. Nope, he shouldn't have gone into the stands but he didn't start any of it. And if he gets in any trouble for jacking the fat Hobbit Pistons fan the Players Union should do something very drastic. You come on the court that's the chance you take. The fat dude squared off with him and I'm glad Arrest popped him without any hesitation.

Another sad thing is that all the Detroit fans are now going to be considered threats and thugs when it was really about 15-20 people involved out of 20,000.

11-21-2004, 04:44 PM
Jermaine O'Neal - ONE (1) game (defending a teammate ON the court - deal with it, fans)

True, the chubby dude was an idiot, but O'Neal sucker punched him while he was being helped up. No call for that. At least he squared up against Artest, although his hands were down and he had a jersey in one, and Artest popped him a good one. But no call for what O'Neal did, unless of course there were things said we don't know about.

Again, I don't know how O'Neal was "defending" Artest, when the chub was on the ground and Artest was already towards the locker room. Defending yourself and your team against harm is one thing. Defending your 'hood is another.

Rage is not a good thing to have.

11-21-2004, 04:46 PM
WOW, and I thought I was giving leeway...

I would suspend the three players as follows
O'Neal - 8 games...
Artest - 12 games...
Jackson - 15 games...

And then Wallace 5 games...

But I understand why the League has overreacted in such a fashion. They never want something like this to happen again. They got lucky, as you said Ben, that a fan wasn't hurt severly or killed...they now must build off that luck and if it means sacrificing a teams season or a few players careers...then so be it. They can't afford to have something like this ever happen again.

I think the suspensions are quite excessive, but the scene was so GD ugly, I understand the overreation.

11-21-2004, 04:48 PM
Artest 15 games
O'neal 25 games
Wallace 3 games
Jackson 35 games

11-21-2004, 04:53 PM
Artest 15 games
O'neal 25 games
Wallace 3 games
Jackson 35 games

Those numbers I can pretty much agree with, except maybe give Artest 5 more for womping on the wrong dude. If he would have picked the right one, 15 games is good.

11-21-2004, 05:02 PM
I could live with Jackson getting 35 games since he had no reason to go INTO the stands and attack anyone who moved.

O'Neal getting anything more than 15 is a joke. Yes, he leveled a "defenseless" drunk, but the drunk happened to be on the court and had just finished threatoning his teammate. O'Neal also had a chair thrown at his head on his way back to the tunnel, therefore has even more reason to be angry and upset.

The fans, then Jackson, then Wallace, then Artest are the order of blame IMO...

11-21-2004, 05:04 PM
I like the suspensions as is . . . though I think Jackson deserves more than O'Neal. But he will get his through the legal system.

The problem with Ben's comparison is that Tim Duncan would never go up into the stands to defend his honor (oops, I mean defend himself). That is the fundamental issue here . . .

11-21-2004, 06:30 PM
Artest got that month off to promote his album after all.