THROWBACK: The Malice at the Palace!
22,076 people packed into The Palace of Auburn Hills on November 19, 2004 for a regular season game between the Indiana Pacers and the Detroit Pistons. The two teams were Eastern Conference rivals, so even though it was early in the season, everyone knew it was going to be an interesting game. They played against each other in the Eastern Conference finals the year before, and this was their first game between one another since then. So of course, there was a lot of bad blood between both teams. They basically fucking hated each other. Detroit won the NBA Championship after beating Indiana the past year, so had been living like kings. Indiana, this year, was determined to knock them off their throne. The Indiana Pacers did more than knock Detroit off their throne that night, they decided to knock a few of their loyal followers out as well.
From the beginning of the game, the Pacers went straight to work. They jumped out to a very sizeable lead, and by the end of the first half, they were up by 16 points. In the second half, the Pistons fought back but it just wasn’t enough. It became evident that the Pacers were going to win this game. And then THE CRAZIEST moment in NBA history happened! With 45 seconds left in the game, Ron Artest (Metta World Peace or whatever the hell he calls himself these days), fouled the Ben Wallace, hard. Indiana was up 97-82, so there was no reason for Ron Artest to even do that. Ben Wallace didn’t take that to well. He immediately pushed Artest in the face which resulted in both teams rushing over and getting into a huge altercation. Artest, being the crazy person that he is, decided to remove himself during the fight and lay on the scores table. Only a man named Metta World Peace would do some dumb shit like lay down somewhere while a fight was taking place that he actually started.
A few minutes later, the unthinkable would happen. As coaches and players tried to calm down Ben Wallace, a Detroit fan decided it was time for him to take action. That action came in the form of a diet coke that he hurled at Artest from way up in the stands. Surprisingly, he hit Artest right in the chest as he was lying on the scores table. In that very moment, all hell broke loose. Artest ran into the crowd in the direction of where the cup had been thrown from. Almost like a lion chasing down its prey. He immediately grabbed the man, who he thought threw the cup at him and began fighting with him. As soon as that happened, his teammate Stephen Jackson (who is also crazy) ran into the crowd and started knocking other fans out as well. At that point they didn’t care who it was, they just started hitting everyone they saw. If you were in that area, you were getting knocked out! But the fans actually fought back. As surprising as all this must sound, the fans actually fought back. Shortly after, players from the Indiana Pacers, ran into the stands to stop the mayhem and bring both players back to the court. The fans became outraged and started throwing everything they could in the direction of Artest and Jackson. A few fans actually followed them back on to the court and confronted them there. That of course didn’t go so well for the fans, as Artest just started beating the hell out of them there. Pacer Center, Jermaine O’Neal might have had the punch of the night, as he ran a slid across the court on to knock one fan straight on his back. Police and security stormed the court to remove all players and coaches. They didn’t not let them play the remaining 45 seconds of the game. Their main concern was to get all the players and coaches out of the arena as quickly as possible.
The worst thing that could have happened to the NBA, happened that Friday night. The separation between fans and players had been broken. For children and adults to see players that they look up to and admire, running into the stands and fighting with fans, was become a bad image for the NBA. Ron Artest was be suspended for the remainder of the season and would lose almost $5 million dollars of his salary. Stephen Jackson and Jermaine O’Neal would also be suspended for 30 and 15 games. This would go down as one of the worst events in NBA history! Its definitely an all-time Flagrant Foul moment!
“As bad as it looked on TV, it was at least 20 times worse in person.” Jermaine O’Neal.
Main photo’s from sportsgrid.com and grantland.com
Information source: wikipedia.org