Share this article

print logo


Investigators interviewed nine people injured in the brawl at the end of the Pistons-Pacers game, but no charges were imminent in the case, the Oakland County, Mich. prosecutor said Monday.

Police were also reviewing videotapes and interviewing witnesses from Friday night's melee, when Indiana forward Ron Artest charged into the stands after a fan threw a cup at him.

NBA commissioner David Stern suspended Artest for the season Sunday. Teammate Stephen Jackson was suspended for 30 games and Jermaine O'Neal got 25 games for their roles.

Detroit's Ben Wallace was suspended for six games for shoving Artest, which started the chain of events.

If charges are filed, they probably would be for assault and battery, a misdemeanor that could bring a three-month jail sentence, said David Gorcyca, the prosecutor. The only possible felony charge could be against the person who hurled a chair into the crowd.

Police Chief Doreen Olko said none of the people involved was seriously injured.

John Green of West Bloomfield Township was the fan who threw the cup at Artest, Gorcyca said. The prosecutor identified Green -- a former next-door neighbor -- by repeatedly watching footage of the brawl. He said footage showed that once Artest was in the stands, Green grabbed him from behind and sucker-punched him.

Green, however, told reporters he didn't throw the cup.

"I wish the whole thing didn't happen," he said. "I'm sure the NBA players that got involved in it wish it never happened, the fans never wished that it had happened. I know I don't. It was awful, it was ugly."

Pistons chief executive Tom Wilson said Green is a season-ticket holder and will be banned from The Palace.

Detectives are asking the public to help identify another man who they say was caught on tape flinging a chair through the air. The chair, police said, hit a police officer -- and several other people. Authorities said they expected to release a photograph today of the man taken from videotape of the brawl.

One of the men who allegedly was hit by a chair, John Ackerman Jr., announced Monday he plans to sue the Indiana Pacers -- and possibly the Palace.

William Paulson remembers talking to his friend Mike Ryan, looking up and seeing Artest charging into the stands at them. Artest started pummeling Ryan, Paulson said.

Paulson said Pacers forward Stephen Jackson sucker-punched him.

"It's horribly scary to be in that situation," Paulson said.

Both Ackerman and Paulson suffered concussions, attorney Todd Weglarz said.

Stern said the NBA will re-examine policies ranging from arena security to alcohol sales in response to one of the worst brawls in the league's history. He will not build barriers between the players and the fans or force games to be played in empty arenas.

With the suspensions, the Pacers' deep and talented roster has been reduced from a title contender to rubble.

The Pacers lost over 62 percent of their scoring. Combined with myriad injuries to key players, that leaves the likes of Fred Jones and Austin Croshere to carry the load until the team gets healthy and O'Neal and Jackson return.

The Pacers' leadership expressed unequivocal support for all three suspended players on Monday and said the losses haven't changed their goals for a season that began with championship aspirations.

"We don't care who puts on a uniform," coach Rick Carlisle said. "There's a standard here. When you put on an Indiana Pacers uniform, you're expected to perform at a certain way at a certain level. That's what we expect from all these guys who haven't necessarily been star players."

Wallace will not appeal the six-game suspension the NBA gave him for his involvement in the brawl.

"When things like that happen, you've got to protect the league," Wallace said. "You can't have guys going out reacting the way we did."

According to his friends, an embarrassed and remorseful Artest has been pondering about whether to seek professional help.

There are no comments - be the first to comment