Fan details strides made since brawl

Updated: November 20, 2009, 2:33 AM ET
ESPN.com news services

John Green, the fan who five years ago today sparked the infamous Pistons-Pacers brawl by throwing a beverage at Ron Artest, said Thursday the two have spoken recently and hope to partner together for some type of community-service endeavor, possibly in Detroit.

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Appearing on "ESPN First Take" on Thursday, Green recounted the incident and the changes he's made in his life since initiating one of the worst brawls in U.S. sports history. He said Artest called his home several months ago to apologize.

"He said that he was sorry, that ... the whole thing embarrassed him as it did me," Green said. "He wanted to do something for the community for troubled youth. Of course, I can't do much on this end without him.

"We tried to come up with something to give back to the community and come up with something positive. It's not like it's not always going to be known as the brawl, but maybe we could take something good out of it. We're going to try to do something in inner-city Detroit or L.A., maybe after the season ends and he has more free time on his hands."

Green was convicted of misdemeanor assault -- he punched Artest when the player stormed into the crowd at Detroit's Palace of Auburn Hills -- and sentenced to 30 days in jail and two years' probation. He also was ordered to attend Alcoholics Anonymous and anger management counseling, and was banished for life from Detroit's home games.

Artest, who now plays for the Los Angeles Lakers, was suspended for the remainder of the 2003-04 season and lost approximately $5 million in salary. Overall, the NBA banned nine players for more than 140 games combined. Artest's suspension was the largest ever levied for a fight during a game.

"I remember throwing the cup, actually a cup of Diet Coke, not a beer, but I had been drinking and I've had issues with alcohol in the past," Green told "ESPN First Take." "I remember [Artest] running into the stands and grabbing the wrong person and I felt bad. I grabbed Artest from behind, the whole thing was kind of a huge blur. It happened so fast."

"Just a very bad scene," Green said. "It was a scary situation."

Green said he's made strides in his problems with alcohol.

"You know, I realized then the trouble I got in that night pretty much stemmed from alcohol," he said. "I wouldn't have done that sober. Look at the video of people throwing stuff. One little thing triggered this huge event with people throwing stuff and getting way out of hand. It all stemmed from alcohol. If we can control that, we can control these situations."

Artest returned to The Palace of Auburn Hills in 2007 for the first time since the brawl as a member of the Sacramento Kings. There was no backlash.

"He's reached out to the community," Green said. "He's trying his hardest to let people know he's not the same person."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.