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Monday, November 22, 2004
Fan who threw cup has criminal convictions

ESPN.com news services

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. -- 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 county 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.

John Green of West Bloomfield Township was identified as the fan who threw the cup at Artest, said David Gorcyca, the Oakland County prosecutor. The Detroit Free Press reported late Monday that Green has several criminal convictions, including felony assault with intent to do great bodily harm. Green has three drunken-driving convictions, and Gorcyca said a condition of Green's probation was that he not drink alcohol.

Auburn Hills police told the Free Press that they are also asking the public to help identify a man who was caught on tape throwing a chair. Police say the chair hit several people, including a police officer. Authorities plan to release a picture on Tuesday of the man taken from video of the melee.

Gorcyca told the Free Press that charges will not be filed this week but are likely. If charges are filed, they would probably be for assault and battery, a misdemeanor that could bring a three-month jail sentence, said Gorcyca. The only possible felony charge could be against the person who threw the chair.

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

Asked if Artest could claim self-defense, Gorcyca said: "Even if someone did throw water, you don't have a license or a green light to punch them."

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."

Speaking to reporters with his attorney present Monday, Green neither confirmed nor denied he threw the cup. Green said he doesn't remember what happened during the brawl because it all happened so fast. He added that whatever is on the video in the authorities' possession is what happened. There is video showing him throwing the cup.

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

On Sunday, the NBA suspended Artest for the rest of the season. The league also suspended Indiana's Stephen Jackson for 30 games and teammate Jermaine O'Neal for 25. Detroit's Ben Wallace -- whose shove of Artest after a foul led to the five-minute fracas -- drew a six-game ban, while Pacers guard Anthony Johnson got five games.

Four players -- Indiana's Reggie Miller and Detroit's Chauncey Billups, Elden Campbell and Derrick Coleman -- were suspended one game apiece for leaving the bench during the initial fight.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.