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Air war

Report: Pistons' Laettner, Stackhouse fight on plane

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Posted: Friday April 23, 1999 04:56 PM

  According to the article, Jerry Stackhouse (above) tenderized Christian Laettner's face. Ezra O. Shaw/Allsport

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP) -- Detroit Pistons Christian Laettner and Jerry Stackhouse got into a fight aboard the team plane while returning from a game at Charlotte, a newspaper said Friday.

Team spokesman Matt Dobek Friday called the report a fabrication.

"I was on the plane and nothing happened," Dobek said.

According to the Detroit Free Press, Laettner and Stackhouse apparently were involved in a card game that got out of hand and threw punches before the scuffle was broken up.

"I couldn't believe it. I looked up and they were going at it, throwing blows. I wasn't about to get in the middle of it," one player who was not identified told the newspaper.

One unidentified source said the players were arguing over $2,000, and Stackhouse landed some blows to Laettner's face. The Pistons intend to ban card games on future flights, the Free Press said.

Laettner has been out of the lineup since sustaining a fractured rib April 1 against Chicago. The report said he did not reinjure it in the fight.

Stackhouse has an injured right ankle, which limits his leaping ability and quickness. His 12-point, 22-minute effort in Thursday's 104-96 loss to Philadelphia was his best since he was injured March 28. He made six of seven free throws and shot 3-of-10.

Laettner met with coach Alvin Gentry before the game, possibly to talk about the fight or his return to the lineup. That could come in the next game, Sunday at Toronto.

"It'll probably be a game-time decision when a decision is made," Gentry said. "It could be a 70-30 chance for Sunday or 60-40. I just don't know. It's more than just missing his toughness. He's a 6-10 guy who can get the tough rebound, make the tough shot or take a hard foul."

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