Jackson, Artest suspended following court pleas

Stephen Jackson


Ron Artest


NEW YORK -- 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

And their history of headaches was likely the reason they were
slapped with stronger penalties than other players who have been
suspended in recent years for getting in trouble with the law.

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

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 came down hard on both players -- who are
already used to hearing from the league office.

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.

Artest 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. The Sacramento Kings
forward also was fined $600 and ordered to get extensive

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

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

"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."

Artest will lose nearly $471,000 in salary, about $50,000 more
than Jackson.

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

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.

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.