ROCHESTER HILLS, Mich. – Five Indiana Pacers (search) players and three fans charged in one of the most violent melees in NBA history appeared in court Tuesday — each at a separate hearing — and were released on bond.
The Pacers players, charged with misdemeanor assault and battery in the brawl with Detroit fans at The Palace of Auburn Hills, appeared for about three minutes each before District Judge Lisa Asadoorian.
Asadoorian allowed each of the players to leave the state and barred them from the Palace "except for employment-related purposes." Ron Artest (search), Stephen Jackson, Anthony Johnson, David Harrison and Jermaine O'Neal (search) also were told they must attend the next hearing in the case, scheduled for April.
Three fans charged with misdemeanor assault and battery — John Ackerman, William Paulson and John Green — also appeared in court and were released on bond.
Lawyers for the three men — including Green, who is accused of throwing the cup that sparked the brawl during the Nov. 19 game — said they were defending themselves against the Pacers. The lawyers said there is no precedent in the state for classifying the throwing of a cup of liquid as an assault and battery.
"It's like throwing a feather. It's a harmless object," said Green's attorney, Shawn Smith.
David Wallace, brother of Detroit Pistons center Ben Wallace, has also been charged. He was not in court Tuesday, but his attorney appeared on his behalf, prosecutor Paul Walton said.
The fifth fan, Bryant Jackson, is charged with felonious assault for allegedly tossing a chair. He was ordered to stand trial following a preliminary examination Tuesday in Asadoorian's courtroom.
Jackson's attorney, Kenneth Karasick, argued that no witnesses who were at the Palace the night of the brawl could positively identify his client as the chair thrower. But Asadoorian ruled that videotape and witness testimony were sufficient.
The fight among spectators and players broke out near the end of the game after an on-court dispute over a foul.