Basketball: Players banned after fighting fans

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The Independent Online

The National Basketball Association suspended four players indefinitely at the weekend after one of the worst brawls professional sport in America has seen.

The National Basketball Association suspended four players indefinitely at the weekend after one of the worst brawls professional sport in America has seen.

There were 45 seconds remaining in a match between the Indiana Pacers and the Detroit Pistons when a foul by Indiana's Ron Artest on Detroit's Ben Wallace sparked the mayhem. Wallace responded to Artest's foul by pushing him in the face, and the two benches cleared with several players exchanging punches.

The home fans pelted the Pacers with drinks, bottles and chairs. Artest, Jermaine O'Neal and Stephen Jackson responded by fighting spectators, both in the stands and on the court.

Several fans were reportedly treated for injuries, including one who was taken away on a stretcher after being knocked cold by O'Neal. Artest and Jackson also landed punches when confronted by spectators.

Police struggled to gain control as fans were asked not to throw objects. Eventually the Pacers ran to their dressing-room under a shower of beer, ice and popcorn.

The NBA commissioner, David Stern, described Friday night's fight as "shocking, repulsive and inexcusable".

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