The National Basketball Association has announced some of the harshest penalties the league has ever imposed against players involved in a brutal fight in Detroit. The brawl involved players and fans at the end of a game Friday between the Indiana Pacers and host Pistons.
NBA Commissioner David Stern announced Sunday that Indiana's Ron Artest has been suspended for the rest of the season. Artest's ban, which spans 72 games, is the longest in NBA history for a fight during a game. Stern said the suspension is appropriate for the conduct. "The actions of the players involved wildly exceeded the professionalism and self control that should fairly be expected from NBA players. We must affirm that the NBA will strive to exemplify the best that can be offered by professional sports," he said.
The other major suspensions include Indiana's Stephen Jackson, who is banned for 30 games, and Jermaine O'Neal for 25. Detroit's Ben Wallace, whose shove of Artest after a foul sparked the five-minute fracas, drew a six-game ban, while Pacers guard Anthony Johnson will sit out five games.
Commissioner Stern said the suspensions send a clear message to the rest of the players, and the overall incident will force the NBA to review security procedures for both fans and players. "I would say now, the entire league is put on notice based on this unprecedented fiasco. And we (league management) are on notice and we have a responsibility to come up with an intelligent response to it," he said.
Overall, nine players from the teams were banned for 143 games. All of the suspensions are without pay.
Four players were suspended for a game each, including Indiana's Reggie Miller, and Detroit's Chauncey Billups, Elden Campbell and Derrick Coleman. Artest, O'Neal and Jackson, who all threw punches at fans in the stands or on the court at the end of the Pacers-Pistons game Friday night, began serving their suspensions Saturday.