NBA, police reviewing incident with coach's wife, fans

Updated: June 2, 2006, 12:42 AM ET
ESPN.com

PHOENIX -- The wife of Dallas Mavericks coach Avery Johnson is accused of assault and could face charges after an altercation with two Suns fans during Game 4 of the Western Conference finals on Tuesday night.

Mavs owner Mark Cuban and reserve center DJ Mbenga, who was inactive and in street clothes for the game, are waiting to hear if they will face sanction from the NBA for entering into the stands to intervene and calm the situation.

Cuban and Mbenga were joined by team security coordinator Jim Colleran on Tuesday night in a section overlooking the Mavs' bench to check on Cassandra Johnson.

NBA spokesman Brian McIntyre told ESPN.com's Marc Stein on Wednesday that the incident remains under league review, with no ruling to be announced before Thursday.

Rebecca Kettle, one of the Suns fans, told police that Cassandra Johnson hit her twice in the shoulder during a verbal confrontation. According to a police report, an officer read Johnson her rights before questioning her.

Johnson acknowledged she got into an argument with Kettle but denied making any physical contact, the police report said.

Phoenix police said the matter would be turned over to the city prosecutor to determine if any misdemeanor charge should be filed.

Cuban called the incident "a non-event." Will the league agree?

Then-New York center Antonio Davis was suspended for five games in January for entering the stands during a game at Chicago to confront a fan he thought was harassing his wife. But Davis, in that scenario, was an active participant in the game who was penalized for what NBA vice president of basketball operations Stu Jackson described as "breaking the barrier from the court into the stands."

It remains to be seen whether the actions of an owner and/or an inactive player would be interpreted similarly.

According to all involved, Johnson was upset that Kettle and boyfriend Jose Martinez kept standing and cheering, blocking the view of her children. One witness said Johnson used an obscenity when telling the pair to sit down.

"I heard something went on. But we've been in situations before on the road -- Mark's wife has had problems, my wife, our [team] president [Terdema Ussery]," Avery Johnson said after Dallas' 106-86 loss. "When you're on the road, you know things happen, people throw stuff at you. So we'll see what happened. I haven't really talked to her yet."

The police report indicated neither Kettle nor Martinez knew the woman was the coach's wife.

Kettle was ejected from the game, along with Martinez, after she made an obscene gesture.

Marc Stein, a senior NBA writer for ESPN.com, contributed to this report. Information from The Associated Press was also used in this report.

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