Pacers are talk of the town again, and it's not good
Tinsley, Daniels deny reports that they beat nightclub manager hours after game
By Will Higgins and Mike Wells
Indiana Pacers point guard Jamaal Tinsley was an unpopular person Wednesday night at Conseco Fieldhouse.
Fans bombarded him with boos during pregame introductions. Hours earlier, police said Tinsley and teammate Marquis Daniels assaulted a Westside bar manager early Tuesday morning. Neither of the players has been arrested or charged.
In October, the two Pacers were at the scene of a fight outside Club Rio involving former teammate Stephen Jackson.
"How many strikes do you get before you're out?" fan William Goodnight, Fishers, asked before Wednesday's game. "He should have learned his lesson with Jackson. I think there has to be discipline put into this team. Obviously those people have no discipline, and I think they need to follow the example the Super Bowl champion Colts have set."
Pacers CEO Donnie Walsh and President Larry Bird declined to discuss the team's latest image issue.
Co-owner Herb Simon said he's disappointed, but he believes in his players.
"If they were wrong, we'll take action, but until then we'll support our players 100 percent," he said.
Pacers coach Rick Carlisle said the incident will only hurt the franchise's reputation if the allegations are true. "If what our guys are saying is true, then that exonerates them," he said.
The Pacers told The Indianapolis Star they are innocent.
"I had nothing to do with it," Tinsley said Wednesday morning. "For my name to be brought up in something is very disappointing."
Teammate Keith McLeod was with the players and said someone else started a fight.
"We were trying to get out of that place," McLeod said. "I guess that's when the whole scuffle started. We heard somebody was in there trying to steal coats. Everybody had their stuff already. We were trying to get out of there. I don't know how all that other stuff came about."
The investigation, originally assigned to Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department detectives, was joined late Wednesday by the Marion County grand jury, a division of the Marion County prosecutor's office.
Citing grand jury secrecy laws, Marion County Prosecutor Carl Brizzi would not say why the grand jury was involved. He noted that unlike police investigators, "the grand jury has the ability to issue subpoenas and compel sworn testimony from all of the witnesses."
According to a police report, the three Pacers were in the 8 Seconds Saloon, 111 N. Lynhurst Drive, at 2:15 a.m. Tuesday, after a loss to Golden State, when they got into a scrap with the bar's manager.
When police arrived at the scene, Tinsley and Daniels had left. McLeod and Jeremy King, who is McLeod's cousin from Toledo, Ohio, were still at the scene.
"They were trying to find Mr. King's tooth," said IMPD spokesman Doug Scheffel.
The trouble began when several bar employees, including manager Mark Nicholson, 42, attempted to subdue a person who was trying to steal patrons' coats, according to the police report. The club does not have video of the incident.
During that scuffle, members of the Pacers' group "began to yell obscenities towards staff members," Nicholson told police. The manager "stated that he approached Jamaal Tinsley, who he knows through sporting events and personally (from) prior meetings inside the business, that the incident did not involve him, or the others in his party," according to a report.
"Some words were exchanged" between bar management and the Pacers, Scheffel said. Nicholson told police that "Mr. Tinsley, with a closed fist, struck him on the left side of the head, knocking him to his knees. He stated at that time Mr. Daniels and Mr. King also began to use closed fists, striking him in the face. He stated he was unable to defend himself."
Two unidentified witnesses "felt that (Nicholson's) life was in danger," according to the police report, and they helped pull Tinsley and Daniels from him. The report noted that the manager "had a severed earlobe and that his jaw appeared to be fractured."
During the confusion, the would-be coat thief got away.
Nicholson could not be reached for comment, and the report does not mention whether he was hospitalized.
One of Nicholson's colleagues at the 8 Seconds Saloon, Richard Helton, described Nicholson as an "easy, quiet guy -- not one of those guys who goes looking for a fight."
Tinsley and Daniels were two of the Pacers at a Northwestside strip club Oct. 6 during a fight with several other men..
The 8 Seconds Saloon is a former bowling alley. It bills itself as "The Largest Country Bar in the Midwest" and is known for its line-dancing, mechanical bull and frequent live shows.
In the back of the building is a hip-hop club with its own entrance called Tremors.
In the past 12 months, police have been called to one or the other facility about 40 times.
Tremors was closed Monday night, when 8 Seconds was hosting a Colts "player appreciation party." Helton said he did not know whether any Colts players attended, but they do sometimes patronize the place, he said.
Tinsley's night didn't end any better than it began. He missed two shots in the final four seconds of the Pacers' 103-102 loss to Seattle.
Funny how the auther throws that in there at the end.
Why can't the NBA players be like Yao and stay in their hotel rooms and play video games? David Stern should look into buying Wii's for each NBA team to help keep them out of trouble when they travel.