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Nov. 20, 2004

Brawl erupts at Pistons-Pacers basketball game

by Alex Mazerov, Page Editor
In the final minute of Friday night's NBA game between the Indiana Pacers and Detroit Pistons in Detroit, players and fans exchanged blows in a brawl that left several people injured. Nine players have since been suspended.

A scuffle between players on the court escalated and spilled into the stands when fans begin throwing objects at players on the bench. Indiana's Ron Artest and Stephen Jackson charged into the stands at The Palace of Auburn Hills and fought with spectators, according to the Associated Press. The brawl compelled officials to stop the game, which Indiana led 97-82.

According to The Washington Post, the NBA has suspended Artest for the remainder of the season, Jackson for 30 games, O'Neal for 25 games and Wallace for six games. In addition, the league suspended Indiana's Anthony Johnson for five games, and Detroit's Elden Campbell, Derrick Coleman and Chauncey Billups and Indiana's Reggie Miller for one game.

Police said about a half-dozen people were treated for injuries at the arena following the incident and one was taken to a nearby hospital by ambulance, according to the Associated Press.

"It's the ugliest thing I've seen as a coach or player," Detroit coach Larry Brown said following the game.

"There's no place in the game for what went on with this incident," said Joe Dumars, Detroit's president of basketball operations, according to the Associated Press.

The incident was sparked by a foul that Artest committed against the Pistons' Ben Wallace, with 49.5 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter, while Wallace was driving to the basket. After he was fouled, Wallace spun around and shoved Artest in the neck. Both benches emptied and players began skirmishing.

As players continued pushing and shoving each other, coaches from both teams attempted to break up the fight. Artest left the floor and lay down on his back on the scorer's table. After being hit in the face by a plastic cup thrown from the stands, Artest leapt over the table, threw punches as he climbed over the seats and tackled a Detroit fan. Fans began fighting back, and Jackson joined his teammate in the melee. Ushers and security personnel attempted to restore order.

Several minutes later, fans began coming onto the court. A man in a Pistons jersey approached Artest on the floor, shouting at him and raising his fists. Artest punched him in the face and knocked the man down. Indiana's Jermaine O'Neal then ran in and punched another fan.

Spectators threw a chair, popcorn, ice and beverages at Pacers players and coaches as they left the arena for the locker room.

"I felt like I was fighting for my life out there," said Pacers coach Rick Carlisle, according to the Associated Press. "I'm sorry the game had to end this way."



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  • NBA fan on November 20, 2004
    This is one of the most hysterical things I've ever seen.
  • guy on November 20, 2004
    Ron Artest is a stud. That man doesn't take no crap from nobody.
  • yo (View Email) on November 21, 2004
    It is spelled O'Neal with an "a"...you spelled it write at one point but i guess that was when you plagarized from another article.
  • Dan Han on November 21, 2004
    To: yo
    Is joneal@nba.com an e-mail address?

    Anyways, you know that if Jackson, Artest and O'neal weren't held back, they'd pummel like fifty fans. Those stupid Detroit fans, their responsible for the fight, especially the guy who chucked the beer at Artest, setting his insanity on. Artest shouldn't get a hard penalty because he showed admirable control when Ben Wallace shoved him in the face! Three years ago, ARtest would be pounding Wallace, and believe me, Artest can beat Wallace (cause he's soft). Naturally, if someone threw a cup of beer on me, I'd beat him up too just like Artest did. Its an emotional instinct. That's why I feel Artest shouldn't be suspended for no more than like three games.
    ON the other hand, O'neal, Wallace (Ben) and Jackson deserve more punishment. Jackson was beating people up like its a boxing match. Wallace shoved Artest right in the face, now that's pretty serious. Then, O'neal threw a punch that if he hadn't slipped, he could have knocked the guy out.
  • you are stupid on November 21, 2004
    "Artest can beat Wallace (cause he's soft)."

    Are you kidding me?!?!?!
  • ?? on November 21, 2004
    everyone is at fault here. we dont even know if artest beat up the right fan. oneal shouldve gotten a reprieve; all bets are off when a fan come on to the court.
  • 07 on November 21, 2004
    Ben Wallace started the fight. However, he only pushed players, and only once. Going into the stands is an entirely different thing. Professional athletes should be expected to control themselves, even if things are yelled at them. If you watch the tape, the beer was only thrown at Artest AFTER he went into the stands. Also, you can clearly see O'Neal blindsiding fans and just being a goon. O'Neal is mostly responsible for the fight. He is the one who literally walked up to people and started slamming them. This entire incident is a disdrace to the sport though. When I first saw O'Neal jumping over the scoring table, it felt like I was watching pro wrestling.
  • Jon Chiang on November 21, 2004
    I think the suspensions that the league has set into place are a little excessive... Artest for the rest of the season, Steven Jackson for 30 games, Jermaine O'Neal for 25. It was a hostile environment that the Pacers were in, and some of these people are saying that under no circumstances should a professional athlete should physically react to fans, but it was a dangerous situation, fans were throwing chairs, bottles, not to mention coming down onto the floor to attack players. I think Artest had a right to defend himself, those Detroit fans were completely out of line. Also, did anyone else notice how Rasheed Wallace was the sole voice of reason throughout the entire incident?

    Anyways, with these suspensions, the Pacers will be crippled for at least the next 30 games.
  • Aaron on November 21, 2004
    While I don't condone what the Pacers players did, the NBA totally and utterly botched the punishments. Artest out for the year? Are you kidding me?! And O'Neal getting 30 games while Wallace only got 6 is an absolute disgrace. What it tells me and the players is that you can do whatever you want on the court, including sucker punching other players, as long as you don't go into the stands. Oh, and it's quite clear that Artest got provoked by the fans. While the first guy didn't deserve anything, any fan who went on to the court got exactly what they deserved. This was a totally terrible situation all around, and while what happened was inexcusable, the NBA needs to really re-examine the punishments, because there is something wrong with knocking a team out of the playoffs while letting others get free pass is rediculous.
  • watch the tape again on November 21, 2004
    To 07..."the beer was only thrown at Artest AFTER he went into the stands"....NO WAY, Ron Artest was lying down on the table and a big cup of beer/soda flew down and landed on his face...then he stormed up and started the BIG fight...I agree with Dan, Ron Artest showed great control after being pushed by Ben and he should not have to take such a large suspension for something provoked by stupid fans. The fans started the fight and they should take most of the blame....07, you need to get your facts straight! ('05 Rocks the Hizzle)
  • Armin Rosen (View Email) on November 21, 2004
    "everyone is at fault here."

    I could not agree with you more. Excellent, excellent assessment of the situation.
  • troy mcfarren on November 22, 2004
    They deserved every game of this suspension.

    Having said that, this is one of the funniest things I have ever seen.
  • stephen bean on November 22, 2004
    artest stole that guy i still say he should not of been suspended i would of gave him more money. that was the best thing i ve ever seen oneal charged up a punch and dropped that fat guy
  • to you fools on November 22, 2004
    to everyone who blames the players for what happened, post ur names and ill come throw a cup of water in ur face and lets see how u and ur friends react.
  • Michael Bushnell (View Email) on November 23, 2004
    Bean, and the other guy, it wasnt that the guy was right in Artest's face when he threw the cup. If he was, Artest couldve reasonably suspected he was being attacked, and couldve beaten him up as self defense. But that was not what happened; the guy was seven or eight rows away, and the right thing to do wouldve been to have security remove him and to make sure hes never let back into Pistons games.

    Aaron, youre way off. Unless youre safety is in real danger, you cant attack a fan. No way no how. It goes both ways, but the NBA dealt with who they could in the harshest way they could. They had to set a precedent, and did so.

    Jon, no chairs got thrown before Artest ran in to the stands. Just one blue plastic cup, and they dont hurt. Any fan who threw anything is a punk and shouldnt be allowed back to NBA games ever again.

    And about the Pacers: who cares? If a player is suspended, the team is hurt. That's the deal with all suspensions.
  • Aaron on November 23, 2004
    Michael:
    I wasn't condoning what Artest did. In fact, I said he was way out of line for going into the stands. I was just saying that the NBA really needs to take a look at the suspensions and see if they are fair. I honestly don't see how you can suspend the Pacers players 4-12 times longer than Wallace. When I said the fans who were on the court got what they deserved, they did. As soon as they went on to the court, every player should've jumped them. Just as the players don't belong in the stands, the fans don't belong on the court.
  • Rondell and D on November 25, 2004
    Do some of yall even watch the basketball? To Dan Han: "Wallace shoved Artest right in the face, now that's pretty serious." Players getting into physical confrontation is not uncommon, and they always get fines and suspensions: what is so different about this time and what the hell are you complaining about? "I thinhk Artest had the right to defend himself" What the hell was he in danger from? Someone through a PLASTIC cup of beer at him. if he was in a regular situation that would not be ruled as acting in self defense. "Those Detroit fans were completely out of line" ONE freakin fan through the cup! ONE! And the fans that attacked are equally as wrong as Jackson and O'Neil so shut up. To Jon Chiang and Aaron: How are the suspensions to harsh? Artest physically attacked a man that didn't physically attack him! Jackson came into the stands randomly swinging instead of trying to break up the fight like other Pacers were doing. O'Neil came from ACROSS the floor to punch a fat dude just recovering another punch. what is the matter with you? you wouldn't be saying that if you were the one getting punched. a fan being on the court doesn't give a player the right to hit someone. they shouldn't be on the court and they got what was coming, but it is still wrong. Aaron: Wallace got the regular amount of suspension as any other time a fight errupted so shut up.you act like it is different from other squirmishes. he is getting suspended for a player fight and shoving Artest above the shoulders and neck. Artest, Jackson, and O'Neil are being suspended for attacking poeple outside of the NBA. Come correct or dont come at all. Michael Bushnell: man you are absolutly right. everything you said.
  • Rondelle again on November 25, 2004
    Dan Han:

    Wallace can beat Artest's (explicit)(explicit)(explicit)! what are you talking about son? go head with that mess. thats a joke. and if anybody is soft its Artest for the petty fouls he do. He is a mini-Malone, and he is known for that.

    Hey he shouldn't complain; now he got more time to promote his fake azz album.

    To everyone:
    BLAME DOESN'T MATTER! when they get charged for their actions. blame, blame, blame. why does that matter.
    wallace shoved Artest, the game was paused, a fan threw a plastic cup of beer,but Artest shouldnt have ran into the stands, and O'Neil and Jackson had no business putting their hands on anybody.
  • Mr. Boombastic on November 26, 2004
    I think the whole thing was a plot to promote Artest's new album, It made him look like a G.
  • hey rondelle on November 26, 2004
    SHUT UP!!! For someone so interested in not blaming ppl, u sure seem desperate to shift all the blame on Artest, Jackson, and O'Neal (thats how u spell it genius, come correct or dont come at all. do u watch basketball?) now let me ask u a question? do u have emotions? i have an idea for a neat experiment: lets put u in a room with 40 thousand ppl that hate ur guts for no particular reason encircling u. now add 5 ppl that hate u just as much are locked in a very physical battle with u. now 1 of them punches u in the face. lets pretend u have enuff self control not to punch them back. now some random person throws a cup in ur face. it doesnt matter that its not gonna kill u, r u just gonna sit there, u soulless robot, or r u gonna beat down on someone cuz ur very pissed from playing, getting punched, and being hit in the face? r u gonna do some stupid stuff cuz ur pissed? of course u are, y? cuz ur human. u have tempers, u do stupid stuff, ur not perfect n u have emotions. im not excusing nebodies actions, im just saying dont be so quick to judge others.
  • rondelle on December 5, 2004
    hey all im saying is that Artest attacked the wrong man. if he attacked the right fan, it would be different.

    if he would have fought Wallace he would have got a lesser suspension.

    To everybody: im not blaming Artest or anyone. im pointing out who made bad choices, and that was many people. The fans involved are as guilty as Artest, O'Neil, and Jackson.

  • Anonymous (View Email) on December 18, 2004 at 6:02 PM
    Detriot fans should be ashamed.

    I recommend that NO MORE detroit home games until fans are behind a big plexiglass shield and hand cuffed to their seat. THEY should all wear a scarlet PL on their foreheads for the rest of the season. (pl for POOR LOSERS). This should be mandated by the NBA officials
  • Angel (View Email) on January 6, 2005 at 10:49 AM
    I think that all that was not call for. The players should not get get all them. They just should have got a fine.
  • Carter (View Email) on February 10, 2005 at 9:59 AM
    Ron Artest should be able to come back to the league, THIS YEAR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    The fine is way to much, i watched the brawl over and over on my t.v. and he should not be suspended for that long. His fine was reasonable. Good luck to Ron aRtest and i hope that you come back!!!!!!!!
  • Nick (View Email) on May 25, 2005 at 9:33 AM
    Im glad all the players got suspended they all got what they deserved. They are supposed to be proffesionals who make millions and they start a brawl over a cup of ice. That is pathetic and im glad they got suspended!!!!!
  • jessie (View Email) on November 5, 2005 at 4:21 PM
    ron artest sucks!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  • Carter (View Email) on December 20, 2005 at 4:02 PM
    Detroit SUCKS, and I hope Ron Artest whoops all the fans again!!!
  • Ethan Johnson (View Email) on January 9, 2006 at 12:14 PM
    Im late- but the suspension was outrageous, Stern was too harsh on Artest, and i think Artest isn't playing on the team now cause of that inncident. The other 8 or 9 players were just as guilty, thats bs that some people only got a couple games worth of suspension. We need better suspension rules-
  • Sean Johnson (View Email) on March 18, 2006 at 8:27 AM
    Oh my God! I can't believe that Artest attacked the audience; man, he was just so mean to all of the players!
  • kristoff (View Email) on November 27, 2007 at 7:19 PM
    that was an aesome fight
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