League Suspends Artest And Jackson

Saturday, July 14th 2007, 2:35 pm
By: News On 6

NEW YORK (AP) _ Former Indiana Pacers Ron Artest and Stephen Jackson are in trouble with the NBA again.

The central figures in the brawl at the Palace of Auburn Hills were each suspended without pay by the league on Saturday for the first seven games of next season because of their most recent legal problems.

Ironically, Artest was in Africa on a humanitarian mission at the time his penalty was announced. He is with union director Billy Hunter taking part in the players association's ``Feeding One Million'' campaign in Kenya and could be unaware of his suspension.

A response from Artest and the union, including whether they plan to appeal, might not come until they return to the United States.

The Sacramento Kings forward pleaded no contest in May to a misdemeanor domestic violence charge stemming from a March 5 dispute with his wife, the latest in a string of off-court problems.

Placer County Superior Court Judge Francis Kearney sentenced Artest to 100 hours of community service and a 10-day work project through the county sheriff's department. Artest also was fined $600 and ordered to get extensive counseling.

Jackson of the Golden State Warriors pleaded guilty last month to a felony count of criminal recklessness for firing a gun outside an Indiana strip club last fall, when he was with the Pacers. He was ordered to pay a $5,000 fine and perform 100 hours of community service.

``I accept the suspension, believe it is fair and definitely look forward to having this entire process come to a conclusion in November,'' Jackson said in a statement released by the Warriors. ``Additionally, I apologize to my teammates, our fans, our ownership and the NBA for the negativity this has created and the poor example that I set.''

The NFL has toughened its punishment of players for off-the-field conduct under commissioner Roger Goodell, but the NBA has a long list of players it has suspended for actions off the court.

For example, Ruben Patterson was hit with a five-game suspension in 2001 after he entered a modified guilty plea in Washington state to third-degree attempted rape for allegedly forcing his children's nanny to perform a sex act on him. Three years ago, Eddie Griffin was penalized three games after pleading guilty to a misdemeanor assault charge in Texas.

The NBA's collective bargaining agreement calls for a minimum 10-game suspension when a player is convicted of or pleads no contest to a violent felony. While the league felt these crimes fell short of that, it did hit both players with a harsher penalty than the others because Artest and Jackson have a history of trouble.

``Both were serious offenses and each are repeat violators of NBA rules,'' spokesman Tim Frank said.

Artest and Jackson were Pacers' teammates in November 2004 when they were involved in a brawl with fans during a game against the Detroit Pistons. Artest was suspended for 73 games and the playoffs _ the NBA's harshest punishment for a fight _ and Jackson was suspended for 30 games.

Former Sacramento Kings coach Eric Musselman was suspended two games by the league last season for driving under the influence. The last player punished by the NBA was new Orlando forward Rashard Lewis, who got a one-game ban in April 2006 while playing for Seattle after he pleaded guilty to reckless driving.