'Minor' finger poke doesn't warrant prosecution

Updated: June 15, 2004, 2:04 AM ET
Associated Press

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. -- Karl Malone will not be charged in a confrontation with a fan who said the Lakers' forward poked him in the face before Game 3 of the NBA Finals.

Oakland County Prosecutor David Gorcyca said Monday that Malone did put a finger on Happy Asker's cheek, but it wasn't enough to warrant prosecution.

"I don't think that he intended to hurt him," Gorcyca said. "All Mr. Malone has to worry about now is guarding Ben and Rasheed Wallace."

In a dispute shown repeatedly on national television, Asker was at the edge of the court during Los Angeles' layup drill before Thursday night's game, won by the Detroit Pistons 88-68.

Asker, 28, of Southfield heckled and swore at Malone before the player responded and poked at him, Gorcyca said.

"You stink," Asker told Malone, according to a transcript of a videotape of the confrontation.

"You'd better back off," Malone told Asker. "You don't know me."

Gorcyca said his review of the tape led him to the conclusion that Malone was not trying to injure Asker.

Malone did not discuss the confrontation at a news conference at the Palace on Monday.

The prosecutor also said that Asker, who attended the game with his brother, Diah Asker, 31, of San Diego, claimed to have paid a ticket scalper $25,000 for a pair of tickets to the game. Gorcyca noted that buying the scalped tickets was illegal and therefore the men's presence in The Palace was illegal.

The brothers also violated trespassing laws and an Auburn Hills ordinance by coming onto the playing floor, Gorcyca said.

Malone, a 19-year NBA veteran and the league's second-leading career scorer, said last week that Asker spit in his face while heckling him.

"He was really out of line," Malone said. "Just because you buy a ticket doesn't mean you should be able to get on the court and degrade somebody."

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press