PONTIAC, Mich – A fan charged with throwing a chair during a fight among players and fans at a pro basketball game, one of the worst brawls in U.S. sports history, was sentenced Tuesday to two years of probation.
Bryant Jackson (search) was the only one of the 13 players and fans charged with a felony in the Nov. 19 melee during an Indiana Pacers- Detroit Pistons game.
"I'd like to apologize to the Pistons (search) organization, my family and the Pacers organization. ... I am very remorseful," Jackson said before he was sentenced. He also was ordered to pay about $6,000 in restitution.
Jackson pleaded no contest in March to one count of felony assault and one count of misdemeanor assault and battery.
He was accused of heaving a chair over his head, hitting several people, and of throwing a drink at the Pacers (search) as they left the court.
The brawl started after Pistons center Ben Wallace shoved Indiana's Ron Artest following a hard foul. After they were separated, Artest was doused with a beverage, rushed into the stands and beat a man he thought had thrown the drink. Some of his teammates joined him in the stands and also clashed with fans on the court.
"I honestly believe this is mob mentality," Oakland County Circuit Court Judge Rae Lee Chabot said Tuesday. "It doesn't excuse it, but it does explain it."
Three other fans already have been sentenced to probation for walking on the court or throwing objects.
Trials for the five Indiana players involved in the brawl are set to begin Aug. 1, starting with Artest. Trials for four other defendants are scheduled to start in July. All of them are charged with assault and battery