O'Neal has suspension cut, Not for others

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NEW YORK - Jermaine O'Neal won a 10-game reduction Wednesday in his suspension for fighting with fans during the Nov. 19 Pacers-Pistons brawl, but an arbitrator also upheld NBA commissioner David Stern's bans on Ron Artest and two other Indiana players.

The league said it would go to federal court to challenge arbitrator Roger Kaplan's decision, which could make O'Neal eligible to return Saturday when the Pacers host the Detroit Pistons in the teams' first matchup since one of the most violent melees in NBA history.

"We have consistently maintained that the arbitrator has no legitimate role in this matter," NBA deputy commissioner Russ Granik said. "While we obviously agree with Mr. Kaplan's decision upholding virtually all of the suspensions, we don't agree with his conclusion that the conduct did not occur on the playing court, and we have no choice other than to challenge it in federal court."

A hearing was set for 10 a.m. Thursday in U.S. District Court.

In a 28-page decision, Kaplan upheld Artest's season-long suspension and the penalties given to Stephen Jackson (30 games) and Anthony Johnson (five games).

O'Neal's ban was reduced from 25 games to 15. Kaplan cited O'Neal's "character, community involvement and citizenship" in deeming Stern's suspension "excessive."

"This should not be viewed as condoning what O'Neal did. He did punch a fan. The 15-game suspension is a significant penalty. The NBA cannot tolerate such conduct," Kaplan wrote in his decision, a copy of which was obtained by The Associated Press.

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I dont get it. If the NBA hands out the penalties, and they are saying that the arbitrator has no say, why even go to court? Why not just say "Ok, that is nice that your arbitrator feels that way, but, um, you're still not playing"

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Because then the players union would take them to court, so they would have to make a decision. The arbitrator feels he has jurisdication. Isn't it funny how you almost have to a lawyer to understand sports anymore :laugh: .

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