Remembering “The Malice At the Palace” Brawl Between the Pacers & Pistons
On this day in history, November 19th of 2004, the infamous Malice at the Palace brawl between the Pacers and Pistons happened on live TV. A brawl that led to five players being charged with assault, nine players receiving a suspension and five fans getting hit with criminal charges and a lifetime ban from attending Pistons home games. Metta World Peace, back when he was Ron Artest, received the biggest punishment, losing almost $5 million in salary, when he was suspended for the remainder of the season. Teammate Stephen Jackson had the second biggest suspension (30 games) for also going into the crowd.
Back in 2013, Stephen Jackson talked to ESPN’s Dan Le Batard about the incident and told a pretty funny story about Artest not understanding how serious the brawl was.
“I don’t think [Artest] was thinking at the time,” Jackson said. “Me and Jamaal Tinsley every time I see him we laugh at this. Right after the brawl, we’re in the locker room. And this is why I said [Artest] never said ‘thanks.’ So we’re in the locker room, legs all scratched up from hopping over the bleachers, our adrenaline pumping, we laid a couple people out, like we did something, know what I mean? We all sit back, and Ron Artest aka Metta World Peace, leans back and looks at Jamaal Tinsley and asks us, ‘do you think we’re going to get in trouble?’ I said ‘Ron, in trouble?! We’re lucky if we still have a job!’ That was the funniest thing ever. Trouble? We’re lucky we have a job Ron.”
Ron didn’t have a job with the Pacers for much longer. After only playing 16 games the following season, he demanded a trade and was sent to Sacramento a month later.
THE ESPN RECAP
Here’s the ESPN recap of the game that took place on November 19th of 2004.
AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP) — Fists were flying. So were cups, plastic bottles and even a chair in one of the ugliest NBA brawls ever — and Indiana’s Ron Artest was right in the middle of it.
Artest and Stephen Jackson charged into the stands and fought with fans in the final minute of their game against the Detroit Pistons on Friday night, and the brawl forced an early end to the Pacers’ 97-82 win.
Officials stopped the game with 45.9 seconds remaining after pushing and shoving between the teams spilled into the stands once fans got involved by throwing things at the players near the scorer’s table.
“It’s the ugliest thing I’ve seen as a coach or player,” said Pistons coach Larry Brown, who was in the middle of the confrontation, trying to break it up.
After several minutes of players fighting with fans in the stands, a chair, beer, ice and popcorn were thrown at the Pacers as they made their way to the locker room in one of the scariest brawls in an NBA game.
“I felt like I was fighting for my life out there,” Pacers coach Rick Carlisle said. “I’m sorry the game had to end this way.”
The Palace announcer said the game was being stopped and pleaded with fans not to throw things.
About three hours following the startling finish, Auburn Hills police walked out of a television trailer with videotapes gathered from various media outlets.
Officers interviewed witnesses at the arena in suburban Detroit and planned to talk to the players involved.
“We’ll put it all together, take it to the Oakland County Prosecutor’s Office and have them review it and they’ll decide if there are any charges,” Auburn Hills deputy chief Jim Mynsberge said. “I hope we can do it before Thanksgiving.”
“At this time, we don’t have any indication of major injuries,” he added.
It all started when Detroit’s Ben Wallace went in for a layup and was fouled hard by Artest from behind. After being fouled, Wallace wheeled around and pushed Artest in the face. The benches emptied and punches were thrown.
As the players continued shoving each other near center court and coaches tried to restore order, Artest sprawled out on his back on the scorer’s table, looking relaxed.
Just when it appeared tempers had died down, Artest was struck by a cup and beverage thrown from the stands. He jumped up and charged into the stands, throwing punches as he climbed over seats.
Fans were punching back, and Jackson and another teammate joined Artest in the melee.
“I was worried about Stephen Jackson and Artest, as silly as they were acting,” Brown said.
Security personnel and ushers tried to break up the fighting. Former Pistons player Rick Mahorn, who was seated courtside as a Detroit radio analyst, tried to stop the brawl in the stands.
“The police investigation is ongoing and that’s it,” said Pistons spokesman Matt Dobek, who refused to comment further.
Later, a man in a Pistons jersey approached Artest on the court, shouting at him. Artest punched him in the face, knocking the man to the floor before leaving the court. Artest was pulled away, and the fan charged back. Jermaine O’Neal stepped in and punched the man.
“The NBA is withholding comment until it can review the incident,” NBA spokesman Tim Frank said.
Players from both teams left the arena without comment.
“I have never seen a fight like that in a game since I was in high school,” he said. “Man, there are going to be some lawsuits. You don’t think some of those fans aren’t going to want some NBA money?”
The Lakers’ Lamar Odom saw it for the first time as he was being interviewed.
“Whoooo. When you see things like that, just think about what it takes for NBA players to go into a crowd,” Odom said. “Sometimes fans get kind of out of hand, but it must have taken a lot for NBA players to go into a crowd and start a fight.”
Police prevented reporters from crossing the loading dock to get to Indiana’s locker room or the area where the Pacers’ bus was located.
“I’m just embarrassed for our league and disappointed for our young people to see that,” Brown said.