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Pub Boots Pacer Fan; Boss Arrested

February 12, 1999

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) _ The manager of a downtown pub was arrested and charged with battery after tossing out a female patron who was talking to Indiana Pacers coach Larry Bird, police said.

Gordon Etchison, manager of the Legal Beagle pub near the Pacers offices in Market Square Arena, was arrested by police Thursday and charged with one misdemeanor count of battery. He was released from jail after posting $5,000 bond.

Etchison said today he was protecting Bird’s privacy at the time and that the matter had been overblown.

Bird, whom prosecutors list as a witness in the case, was having a beer with an unidentified assistant coach Feb. 4 when he was approached by Kay Williams, 43.

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 the woman 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 me to get away, go, out.″

Williams said she had asked Etchison to give her another minute, and that Bird told Etchison she was not bothering him. But Etchison grabbed her wrist and her arms, pushing her toward the door, she said.

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

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

Bird, contacted about the incident Thursday night before the Paces’ 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.″

Etchison said he was a victim of circumstances after trying to protect the privacy of a prominent patron.

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

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

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