NBA: Star now friends with fan he once tried to attack

Ben Wallace and Ron Artest are separated before the fight spilled into the crowd. Photo / Getty Images
Ben Wallace and Ron Artest are separated before the fight spilled into the crowd. Photo / Getty Images

From the The Malice at the Palace, to the Friendship of World Peace.

In the bizarre basketball career of the former Ron Artest, no incident stands out more than the infamous brawl that broke out between his Indiana Pacers and the rival Detroit Pistons on Nov. 19, 2004. The fracas spilled into the crowd after one Detroit fan threw a beverage at Artest, who was lying prone on the scorer's table.

Nearly twelve years later, the unpredictable forward - known these days as Metta World Peace - reportedly is close friends with the cup-thrower, John Green, and they keep in constant contact.

"The guy that actually started the whole thing, that threw the beer, him and Ron speak daily," former Pacers teammate Stephen Jackson, another protagonist in the melee, said Wednesday (NZT) on ESPN's "The Jump."

"They keep in touch, and they're real good friends... I don't know how they're still friends. It's amazing. But Ron's that type of guy, though, you never know what to expect from Ron."

Artest identified the wrong man as his assailant; instead of Green, he launched himself at another Pistons fan. Artest was suspended without pay for the remainder of the season for his role in the brawl, a total of 86 games including the play-offs. He has since talked about becoming a more happy and calm person with the help of therapy in the aftermath of that fray. Green was sentenced to 30 days in jail and two years' probation, and underwent treatment for alcohol issues and anger management.

"He said that he was sorry, that... the whole thing embarrassed him as it did me," Green told ESPN in 2009, about his first phone call from Artest.

"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."

Jackson, who was suspended 30 games by the NBA, is slightly less inclined to make amends.

"Give me my $3 million back and maybe we can talk about being friends," Jackson said.

- news.com.au

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