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Ugly Brawl Forces End to NBA Game

The NBA (search) suspended four players indefinitely Saturday for their roles in one of the worst-ever brawls in the league, a fight with fans that commissioner David Stern (search) called "shocking, repulsive and inexcusable."

Indiana's Ron Artest (search), Jermaine O'Neal (search) and Stephen Jackson (search) and Detroit's Ben Wallace (search) were suspended, the NBA said Saturday. Police in Auburn Hills, Mich., were investigating, but did not comment on who might be charged.

Artest and Jackson lunged into the stands and fought with fans in the final minute of their game against the Detroit Pistons on Friday night, and the brawl forced an early end to the Pacers' 97-82 win.

After several minutes of players fighting with fans in the stands, a chair, beer, ice and popcorn were thrown at the Pacers as they made their way to the locker room.

About a half-dozen people were treated for injuries at the arena in suburban Detroit, one was taken to a hospital by ambulance and another sought treatment, police said.

The fight was "shocking, repulsive and inexcusable — a humiliation for everyone associated with the NBA," Stern said in a statement Saturday.

Coaches for both teams apologized. Artest, O'Neal and Jackson — all of whom threw punches at fans — were to begin serving their suspensions Saturday night, when the Pacers played a home game against Orlando.

Wallace's suspension begins Sunday with the Pistons' next home game. Pistons spokesman Tom Wilson said Saturday the team plans to use "playoff-level security" starting with that game, doubling the number of armed police and increasing arena security by about 25 percent.

"This demonstrates why our players must not enter the stands, whatever the provocation or poisonous behavior of people attending the games," Stern said.

Auburn Hills police gathered videotapes from various media outlets, interviewed witnesses and planned to talk to the players involved in the melee. Prosecutors will review the evidence and decide on any charges, hopefully before Thanksgiving, Deputy Chief Jim Mynsberge said.

The fight started when Wallace went in for a layup and was fouled hard by Artest from behind. Wallace wheeled around and pushed Artest in the face. The benches emptied and punches were thrown.

Just when it appeared tempers had died down, Artest was struck by a cup thrown from the stands and jumped up and charged into the stands, throwing punches as he climbed over seats.

Jackson joined Artest in the melee and threw punches at fans, who punched back.

Security personnel and ushers tried to break it up. Former Pistons player Rick Mahorn, who was seated courtside as a Detroit radio analyst, tried to stop the brawl in the stands. Detroit's Rasheed Wallace and Indiana's David Harrison were also in or near the stands trying to break up the fights.

Later, a man in a Pistons jersey approached Artest on the court, shouting at him. Artest punched him in the face, knocking him to the floor. O'Neal stepped in and punched another man who joined the scrum.

The league said it was reviewing rules and security procedures "so that fans can continue to attend our games unthreatened by events such as the ones that occurred last night."

Artest has been suspended several times by the NBA. Earlier this month, he was benched for two games for asking for time off because of a busy schedule that included promoting a soon-to-be released rap album. He also destroyed TV monitors at Madison Square Garden two years ago and missed the team flight to Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals last season.