Pacers' O'Neal joins Jackson off court to be in court

Updated: October 9, 2006, 6:55 PM ET
Associated Press

INDIANAPOLIS -- Indiana forward Jermaine O'Neal expects to miss the Pacers' preseason opener against New Jersey on Wednesday because of a lawsuit stemming from the brawl with Detroit Pistons fans two years ago.

Jermaine O'Neal

O'Neal could testify on Tuesday or Wednesday, leaving him doubtful for the game. Jury selection is scheduled to start Tuesday morning in U.S. District Court in Detroit.

O'Neal punched the plaintiff, Charles Haddad, on the court during the Nov. 19, 2004, incident in Auburn Hills, Mich. Haddad wants the Pacers' claims that Haddad trespassed, was intoxicated and violated the waiver on the back of his ticket to be stricken as defenses.

Larry Charfoos, a lawyer for Haddad, said O'Neal would likely not testify until Wednesday at the earliest. If so, O'Neal would make his debut Saturday at home against Utah.

O'Neal said he's happy to be nearing the end of the legal mess left by the brawl.

"It's the icing on the cake to finish this thing off and put it behind me once and for all," he said.

O'Neal would be one of two starters unable to play Wednesday for non-basketball related reasons. Forward Stephen Jackson is expected to practice Tuesday after being hit by a car outside a strip club early last Thursday, but coach Rick Carlisle declared him out for Wednesday's game.

Police said Jackson -- barely two weeks off probation from the brawl with Pistons fans -- fired a gun in the air in apparent self-defense after he was slugged in the mouth and struck by a car that sent him tumbling onto the hood.

Jackson hasn't practiced since, and Carlisle wants to be careful in bringing Jackson back.

"It's going to be a few days before he's going to be able to participate in contact because he has a lot of stitches in his lips," Carlisle said. "The plastic surgeon just wanted to make sure those things don't get busted out until they're taken out.

"He'll return to the team tomorrow and be able to do some non-contact things. It'll be good to have him back."

Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press