The Indiana Pacers nearly capped the aftermath of its organization’s so-called "basketbrawl" Friday, when a Michigan judge handed down sentences to three of the five players involved in a bizarre fight among players and fans.
Ron Artest, Jermaine O’Neal and Stephen Jackson received a year of probation, 60 hours of community service and a $250 fine for their involvement in the brawl at the Detroit Pistons’ Palace of Auburn Hills.
These players along with David Harrison and Anthony Johnson, were charged with misdemeanor assault and battery, which carries a sentence of about three months in jail, and a $500 fine for their involvement in the Nov. 19 incident.
Artest, O’Neal, and Jackson must undergo anger management counseling, Artest has already fulfilled this obligation
Artest, O’Neal, and Jackson pleaded no contest, which in Michigan is not an admission of guilt but viewed as such during sentencing.
Meanwhile, Harrison faces sentencing Oct. 3. and Johnson, who pleaded no contest last week to a count of misdemeanor assault and battery, is to be sentenced Oct. 7. Prosecutors have requested Johnson receive community service and serve probation, along with paying fines and court costs.
The brawl-widely considered one of the worst in sports history-began when Pistons center Ben Wallace shoved Artest after a hard foul.
After the players were separated, a fan doused Artest with a beverage and Artest clamored into the stands after the man he thought had thrown the drink. Some of his teammates joined him in the stands and exchanged blows with fans.
Artest was suspended for the rest of the season, Jackson for 30 games, O’Neal for 25 and Johnson for five. The league did not suspend Harrison.
O’Neal’s suspension was later reduced to 15 games by an arbitrator and upheld in federal court.
Speaking just before he stepped into a limousine waiting outside the courthouse, O’Neal said he looked forward to his 60 hours of community service.
"I really get into it," he told the AP. "I’ve lived the life that many of those kids live. I guess that community service just comes easy for me."