NEW YORK – As a prominent lawyer said he expects to file a number of lawsuits following Friday's infamous basketball brawl, the NBA players' union filed an appeal Tuesday on behalf of three players involved in the fight.
The union filed an appeal on behalf of Indiana Pacers Ron Artest (search ), Stephen Jackson and Jermaine O'Neal, who were suspended for their roles in the brawl with Detroit Pistons fans.
The union asked that an arbitrator decide whether there should be reductions in the suspensions handed out Sunday: Artest was banned for the season, Jackson for 30 games and O'Neal for 25. Six players were suspended for one to six games; those are not being appealed.
Union director Billy Hunter (search) has called the penalties excessive, saying a suspension of about 35 games would have been more appropriate for Artest.
Commissioner David Stern (search), who issued the suspensions, has sole discretion under collective bargaining rules over penalties for on-court behavior, and all appeals go through him, too.
The union, however, asked in its one-page appeal that the case go to arbitrator Roger Kaplan.
"We are arguing that the discipline imposed is inconsistent with the collective bargaining agreement, and without just cause," union spokesman Dan Wasserman said.
Lawsuits Filed on Behalf of Fans
Attorney Geoffrey Fieger said he expects to file "five or six" lawsuits on behalf of fans who were involved in the brawl.
Fieger said on "Fox & Friends" on Tuesday that he would likely file the lawsuits on behalf of people who "were genuinely hurt" during the fight. At least one lawsuit, on behalf of fan John Ackerman, has already been filed.
Ackerman told "Fox & Friends" on Tuesday that he has little memory of what happened.
"I was standing on my seat when all of a sudden ... I was knocked out," Ackerman said.
"They tell me I was assaulted by one [player] and knocked over the back of the chairs but I don't remember that," he said. "I woke up being escorted off the floor in a wheelchair."
Fieger said that Ackerman's lawsuit names three players as well as the NBA as defendants. Fieger is a lawyer who rose to prominence representing Dr. Jack Kevorkian — the Michigan doctor who helped chronically ill patients commit suicide.
Artest: 'I Don't Think It Was Fair'
Meanwhile, the player at the center of the brawl — Artest, the Pacers' forward — said Tuesday in his first national interview on the topic that he wishes he hadn't gotten into a fight with fans but feels his season-ending suspension was too harsh.
"I don't think it was fair — that many games," Artest said in an interview on NBC. "I respect David Stern's decisions, but I don't think I should have been out for the whole season."
Artest, who was suspended for a total of 73 games, stands to lose nearly $5 million this season.
Artest bolted into the stands after being hit by a cup thrown by a fan, touching off a brawl in which players exchanged punches with fans, who also threw drinks, popcorn, a chair and other debris at the Pacers.
"I wish that situation never happened," Artest said. "It wasn't good at all, for anybody. ...
"This is the third time that I've been hit with something out of the crowd," said Artest, who claimed he had been struck previously in Detroit and in Cleveland.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.