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Pub Boots Pacer Fan; Boss Arrested

February 12, 1999

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) _ The manager of a downtown pub arrested for battery on a patron said Friday he’s a victim of Larry Bird’s high profile.

Gordon Etchison of the Legal Beagle pub said he was only trying to protect the privacy of the Indiana Pacers coach when he evicted a female patron whom he believed was bothering Bird.

Etchison was arrested by police Thursday and charged with one misdemeanor count of battery. He was released from jail after posting $5,000 bond.

``My understanding is he doesn’t like to be bothered a lot,″ Etchison said of Bird. ``I don’t know what the big deal is.″

If not for a ``high-profile person like Larry Bird, they wouldn’t even file charges against me,″ Etchison said.

If convicted, Etchison faces a maximum sentence of a year in jail and a fine of $5,000.

Bird, whom prosecutors list as a witness in the case, was having a beer with an unidentified assistant coach in the pub near Market Square Arena when he was approached by Kay Williams on Feb. 4.

Bird gave the woman an autograph, and when she approached him later at the bar, he politely talked with her, police said. Pacers president Donnie Walsh had given Williams and her chronically ill daughter two tickets to the NBA All-Star game last year in New York.

Williams said that while she talked with Bird, Etchison approached her and asked her to leave Bird alone.

Williams said Bird told Etchison she was not bothering him, but the pub manager grabbed her wrist and her arms and pushed her toward the door.

She said Bird tried to get Etchison to stop by ``yelling at Gordon, saying, `Gordon, it’s OK.′ ″

Williams received hospital treatment for soreness, bruises and other injuries.

Bird, contacted about the problem Thursday night before the Pacers’ game at Vancouver, said he had been having a conversation with Williams, ``and the next thing I know, somebody asked her to leave, and he grabbed her arm or something.″

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