Fan Suspected in NBA Brawl Speaks Out

ByABC News via logo
November 23, 2004, 7:59 AM

Nov. 23, 2004 — -- He has been identified as the fan who threw the cup that launched Indiana Pacers forward Ron Artest into the stands, but John Green has denied being a catalyst in perhaps the worst brawl in modern sports history and insists he was trying to stop the fight.

"I was with a bunch of young kids I had taken to the game and he [Artest] jumped on somebody next to me," Green said in an exclusive interview on "Good Morning America." "I grabbed him from behind, trying to pull him off. I was trying to talk to him, telling him to stop and he kept yelling something, I couldn't hear what it was."

David Gorcyca, prosecutor for Oakland County, Mich., identified Green -- a former next-door neighbor -- on Monday after repeatedly reviewing the footage of the brawl between fans and players at the end of Friday's game between the Detroit Pistons and the Pacers. The NBA suspended nine players involved in the melee. Artest, who was involved in a shoving match with Pistons center Ben Wallace, charged into the stands after a fan threw a partially filled beverage cup that hit him. He was suspended for the rest of the season.

Gorcyca said that he saw Green grab Artest from behind and sucker-punch him. On the video, Green is shown wearing a white cap and Pistons jacket. A Pistons executive said Green is a season-ticket holder and would be banned from The Palace at Auburn Hills, the home of the NBA world champions. Green, however, said he was trying to stop Artest from punching several fans. He said Artest kicked him from behind and that he then "reacted."

"The cup got hurled from the general vicinity of where I was sitting," Green said in an exclusive interview on "Good Morning America" this morning. "He [Artest] looked up. We were shocked that the cup hit him. He looked up at us and started charging up there. It was pretty shocking. I didn't know what to think."

In this morning's interview, Green's attorney would not allow him to say whether he threw the cup that sparked Artest's gallop into the stands. He said the video shows what happened.