Five Indiana Pacers basketball players and five Detroit Pistons fans were charged Wednesday with assault following the now-infamous Nov. 19 brawl during an NBA game, a Michigan prosecutor announced.
All charges are for misdemeanor assault and battery – except one fan faces a felony assault charge for allegedly throwing a chair, said Oakland County Prosecutor David Gorcyca.
The fight was spurred by a fan who tossed a drink at Indiana forward Ron Artest, who then charged into the stands and attacked a man he thought had thrown the cup. The fight escalated and eventually involved several Pacers players and fans.
Artest has been charged with one assault count. John Green – the man accused of throwing the cup – faces two assault counts.
“John Green … in my mind single-handedly incited this whole interaction between the fans and players and probably is the one that’s most culpable,” Gorcyca said.
Three-time NBA All-Star Jermaine O’Neal faces two assault counts, while teammates David Harrison, Stephen Jackson and Anthony Johnson face one count each.
Assault and battery carries a maximum penalty of 93 days in jail and a fine of up to $500. Felonious assault carries up to four years’ imprisonment.
In reaction to the brawl, NBA commissioner David Stern suspended Artest for the rest of the season. Jackson was banned for 30 games, O’Neal for 25, and other players received shorter suspensions.
The players’ union is appealing the suspensions of Artest, Jackson and O’Neal.