This is a partial transcript from "On the Record," November 22, 2004, that has been edited for clarity.
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GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, HOST: Now to Michigan, where the prosecutor says he's considering criminal action against everyone involved in Friday's brawl at the Pistons-Pacers (search) game.
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DAVID GORCYCA, OAKLAND COUNTY PROSECUTOR: It's vitally important that before we make a charging decision, that a complete and thorough investigation is done. Everyone involved in this altercation will be held accountable, regardless of their status as a player or a fan.
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VAN SUSTEREN: Prosecutors say if charges are filed, they most likely will be for assault and battery, a misdemeanor charge. However, a felony charge could be slapped again the person who fired a chair into the crowd. Pacers president Larry Bird (search) says he hopes the incident doesn't scan fans away.
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LARRY BIRD, PACERS PRES. OF BASKETBALL OPS: To our fans, we need you now as much as we ever needed you. We need support. We need you behind us. This is not something that we wanted. It happened. We'll deal with it, and we'll move forward.
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VAN SUSTEREN: Meantime, the NBA players union (search) is crying foul after the league dropped the suspension hammer on nine players, stripping them of millions of dollars.
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DAVID STERN, NBA COMMISSIONER: 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 and not allow our sport to be debased by what seem to be declining expectations for the behavior of fans and athletes alike.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAN SUSTEREN: Joining us from Detroit are two fans who say they were attacked by two NBA players on Friday night, John Ackerman and Bill Paulson. They are joined by their lawyer, Geoffrey Fieger, who's on the phone tonight.
Bill, let me start with you because apparently, it is being alleged that you threw a beer at Artest, is that right?
BILL PAULSON, ALLEGEDLY ATTACKED BY NBA PLAYER: No. The gentleman in the blue shirt threw the beer. And Stephen Jackson (search) hit me in the back of the head, and he attacked the gentleman that I was with at the game.
VAN SUSTEREN: John, what happened that night?
JOHN ACKERMAN, FILING LAWSUIT IN NBA MELEE: Well, I was on the exit aisle, floor seat. I was four seats back or four rows back from the floor, as to where the Indiana players came into the arena and left the arena. I watched most of the melee going on over around the bench, and then the players started to come off the floor. And I looked back toward the bench to see if any were still back there, and I don't know how long a point later, but wound up coming out of unconsciousness on the floor, being helped up by two security guards into a wheelchair. I vaguely remember going off in the wheelchair.
VAN SUSTEREN: Geoff, you represent both John and Bill. What do you intend to do?
GEOFFREY FIEGER, ATTORNEY FOR FANS INVOLVED IN NBA BRAWL: We'll file a lawsuit in the Oakland County circuit court. We've prepared it. It'll be filed first thing in the morning, alleging negligence and assault and battery against the Indiana Pacer players that attacked Bill and John and against the Indiana basketball team itself and the NBA.
VAN SUSTEREN: Are there any Detroit Pistons involved in any way in your lawsuit, Geoff?
FIEGER: No, no. The Detroit Pistons and the Palace, so to speak, are not involved. This is a case in which entertainers — because that's what they are, they're paid to play and they entertain people and admission is charged to see them — they left the court and began attacking the spectators. And they've been fined by the league millions of dollars. And they can expect that from a court of law. I wouldn't expect anything less. If the league, NBA, thought that their actions were worthy of millions of dollars in fines, I certainly think a jury would agree also.
VAN SUSTEREN: John, Ron Artest has expressed his regret. I guess maybe you might even call it an apology, but at least the way it's being printed on the wires is that he expresses his regret. Is that enough for you?
ACKERMAN: I had nothing to do with Ron. What he does and, you know, does not do, that's up to the league and up to the people in the NBA to accept or not accept. I was not involved with anything that Ron did.
VAN SUSTEREN: Bill, tell me in your words what happened.
PAULSON: Me and my friend were sitting in seats that my family has had for over 25 years, and we were watching the game. And kind of the next thing you know, my friend was being assaulted by Ron Artest. And I tried to kind of get him off, and then Stephen Jackson came into the crowd and hit me in the back of the head and kept chasing after me. And he was held back after that.
VAN SUSTEREN: Geoff, there are several things going on. One is the suspension, which, of course, also results in a fine of their foregone income. Another is a civil action that you will be bringing on behalf of your clients. But the other is the possibility of a criminal case. You know this prosecutor, don't you?
FIEGER: Very well. In fact, I would say, and he'd probably admit it, that I'm probably responsible for him being elected, in light of the fact that it was the former prosecutor's relentless pursuit of Dr. Jack Kevorkian that got Dave Gorcyca his job.
VAN SUSTEREN: Do you think, Geoff, that these players should be charged with criminal offenses?
FIEGER: Oh, absolutely. And there's no doubt that at least three of them will be. There's no question that O'Neal and Jackson and Artest will be charged with criminal violations of law. There is no excuse for their actions. They could never justify leaving the court and going up to attack anyone. If Artest, for instance, felt aggrieved by someone throwing a plastic cup of beer at him, he simply had to go to one of the police officers, point the gentleman, or the perpetrator out, and have him arrested. He can't go into the stands and take the law into his own hands. And certainly, none of the other players could do that. There will be charges against those players.
VAN SUSTEREN: Bill, what do you see as the first provocation? What started this?
PAULSON: I think, obviously, the first thing that started it was the guy that threw the beer. He had come down earlier in the day from the upper level. He didn't belong in those seats. I think when you sit that close to the court, you bear a certain responsibility to not heckle and to certainly not throw things. But he certainly didn't belong there. And when he threw the beer, you know, it was just one horrible event after another — it was just bad.
VAN SUSTEREN: John, did the fans play any role and responsibility for this?
ACKERMAN: I don't understand why would you say the fans have a responsibility.
VAN SUSTEREN: I wasn't there. I'm just curious. I wasn't there.
ACKERMAN: Well, I couldn't tell you what happened there. I was knocked cold, and when I recovered, I was going into first aid. And I had to review or see what happened to me, how I was knocked out, through watching video clips.
VAN SUSTEREN: Right. So you're in the same position as we are, then, in terms of making that analysis and...
FIEGER: Well, but Greta, if I could interrupt for a second? Think about it. John is sitting there in relatively expensive seats. He's paid to spend a night watching a basketball game. And he's knocked cold by one of the players when hit from behind with a chair. Can you think of anything more absurd than that? Who else could bear responsibility than the player?
VAN SUSTEREN: And with that, you're going to get the final word, at least for a bit, Geoff. I want you to stand by, Geoff. Gentlemen, thank you both very much.
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