Malice at the Palace: Pacers, Pistons, and the Brawl That Rocked the NBA

[AUTHOR'S NOTE: Now this was going to be a book, but by the time I finished, it was very short and in book-terms, I didn't try very hard. If you put it in article terms, it works. Besides, this article equaled like one or two of one of those Bill Simmons' or Tuesday Morning Quarterback columns. So this would go in for a great exchange besides just throwing this whole idea away. Besides, no publisher would take this idea, too. I will be working on a new book later, talking about Reggie Miller and the New York Knicks. Enjoy this piece.]
It was 97-82 as the favored Indiana Pacers were entering this game against the Detroit Pistons. Indy had a nice, comfortable lead with about a minute remaining to give them another victory, this time against their rival. And it was about to happen tonight. However, things got a little weird when the clock hit 45.9 seconds remaining.

Pistons’ center Ben Wallace drove up the lane for a lay-up, before being fouled hard by Ron Artest. Artest always has drawn fouls and continues to do so as he plays a rough and physical type of defense.

Wallace came towards him and Artest fouled him hard as Wallace almost went down to the floor. Ben and his gigantic afro bounced back up as Wallace started talking some trash. We all knew one thing: He was pissed off. And it is scary when Wallace gets pissed off.

It was even scarier when Wallace pushed Artest. And when you see a fight that looks like that is about to begin between one of the toughest guys in the National Basketball Association, you better watch out.
The other Wallace, Rasheed, was trying to stop the fight and things started to get a little scary. It seemed as if the tempers died down, however. But everything was just beginning.

This day of Novemeber 19, 2004 will forever be known as Malice at the Palace to NBA historians. And this event rocked NBA history. Almost a decade has gone by and people still talk about it to this day. Why not start off with a book article?


The Pacers entered the 2004-05 season as a pretty banged up team. They were aching, with casts and stuff. Ron Artest didn’t even think about playing the season-opener against sophomore LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers.

However, Artest played and brought in 50 minutes of play, delivering 31 points and nine rebounds in the team’s 109-104 victory in double-overtime.

“Twenty-five minutes before the game I wasn’t playing,” said Artest.. “I wanted to play. I can play with pain.”

He certainly did and he played hard. The Pacers opened up their season well to a nice 1-0 mark.

Point guard Jamaal Tinsley also played well with 15 points, 14 assists, seven rebounds, and three steals in a great leadership role during the game.

“One of the things we wanted to do this year was be a team that was even hungrier than last year. Our guys showed a lot of heart tonight. This was as good a regular-season game and victory as I’ve been involved with as a head coach,” head coach Rick Carlisle said after the game.

Austin Croshere delivered 20 points and had some key shots in the game that were very critical.

Indy would then go on to play the Boston Celtics two days later on November 5th, beating them 100-94 to make them 2-0. It was another injury-filled game for the Pacers, who played without Reggie Miller, Jonathan Bender, Jeff Foster, and Anthony Johnson.

Jermaine O’Neal, like Ron Artest in the season-opener, thought about not playing but went ahead for 19 points despite his sore left foot.

“With so many guys out, we just have to try and maintain,” said Artest, who had 28 points and seven rebounds. “That way when they come back, we’ll be that much stronger.”

O’Neal played okay, but not so good. He was 5-of-16 from the field and also missed the season-opener. He also was 9-of-14 from the free-throw line. O’Neal also just only played one pre-season game as well.

“Right now I don’t deserve to be a starter because I haven’t been there,” said O’Neal. “I’ve got to work my way back in the lineup. I truthfully believe I don’t deserve to start yet.”

A day later, the Pacers will host Chicago in their home-opener. They looked like they would surprise people if they beat Chicago despite their injuries. Fred Jones didn’t care and doesn’t think of it as a surprise at all.

“We have 15 guys who can play basketball,” Jones said. “We know how to play.”

It’s pretty obvious, yes, as the Pacers down Chicago 100-90. Stephne Jackson lighted up the third quarter, hitting a handful of three-pointers to help Indy start off at a 19-6 run. Jackson’s 24 points led this banged up team to victory to start the season off with three straight wins for the first time since 1995!

“I don’t think we’re supposed to lose to nobody, as deep as we are,” Jackson said.

When Indy was up 62-57, the foul trouble began to come in to superstars in Jermaine O’Neal and Ron Artest. When they reached their fourth foul at this moment, they looked towards their bench for help. And guys like David Harrison, Austin Croshere, Jamaal Tinsley, Jackson, and Jones helped lead the Pacers to victory.

At 3-0, Indy is living it.

The Pacers will now have to head back on the road in three days to face the Minnesota Timberwolves. Indy managed to escape, and still banged up, going 4-0 with a 102-101 victory.

Jermaine O’Neal was the leader with 22 points and eight rebounds. However, Artest was benched. The reason for it was not displayed. Stephen Jackson also helped out, bringing in 21 points, six assists, and four rebounds.

“This team is so far from being a one- or two-man show,” O’Neal said. “Pretty soon someone’s going to have to say something about us.”

O’Neal handled Garnett well, but The Big Ticket still had a good performance with 22 points, ten rebounds, and eight assists as he is continuing to become a bigger leader of the team.

Indy’s Scot Pollard contributed well, brining in eleven rebounds.

Up next was the Los Angeles Clippers at home the next day on November 10th. But it wasn’t a game to get your courtside seats ready for. The injuries and the benching of Artest finally made something negative towards the team as they took the whole thing positive during the last four games.

The first quarter was nothing to worry about, with the Clippers up 24-20. But things got out of hand coming into the second, as the Clippers had a 31-7 advantage over Indy. With this, Indy was down 55-27 at halftime.

It was over from there. The game ended with a 102-68 loss.

Jamaal Tinsley had a game in which a backup could produce, with 15 points and five assists. Elton Brand led the Clips with 19 points and 16 rebounds. With this, Indy goes to 4-1 and the Clippers go up 3-2.

Artest was making things hectic for Indy, though. He asked for the day off as he was trying to promote his new rap album. With promoting his rap album, Indy meanwhile got shut out at home by nearly 40 points.

“I was doing a lot,” Artest said. “I was running around a lot and doing a whole bunch of stuff and I’ve also been working out, so I think I wore myself down physically, I wore myself down mentally. I was ready to take some time off, at least like a month off, but two games is enough.”

Thank god.

Artest, however, looks to return for the next game against Philadelphia. However, Rick Carlisle says, “We’ll see.” Notable players that were out in this loss were Scot Pollard and Jonathan Bender.

“We’ve certainly got to get some bodies healthy,” Carlisle said. “We certainly didn’t play with the kind of energy we have been playing with. It’s a bad hit. It’s embarrassing.”

Hopefully Indy can put this behind them and get a win in Philly.

Unfortunately, trying to put the blowout loss to Los Angeles wasn’t the case. Allen Iverson was the man in this game, as the nine-year veteran delivered a game-winner at the buzzer to deliver a 106-104 victory for the 76ers in an overtime bout.

“It’s a great feeling to hit a shot with no time on the clock,” said Iverson.

Kyle Korver helped the Sixers with 23 points, three rebounds, and two assists.

Jermaine O’Neal helped the Pacers big time, and almost helped towards victory; producing 39 points, nine rebounds, four blocks, and three assists. Ron Artest said he would play, and he did, giving Indy 29 points. Stmephen Jackson contributed 17.

“If you try to do the right things, good things happen to you,” Artest said. “I think everything happens for a reason. Nobody got hurt. There’s a bunch of good people on this team.”

It was a banged-up match-up. They would have easily brought in a victory if they didn’t have so many injuries. The Pacers played with eight players that day, and were down to five coming into overtime.

Indy was out with several players, like Jonathan Bender, Fred Jones, John Edwards, Reggie Miller, Jeff Foster, and Anthony Johnson.

But they came close.

But yet, no cigar.

Indy now heads back towards a two-game home-trip against the New York Knicks and Atlanta Hawks.

The two-game run at home would turn out to be pretty successful. Coming in on November 13, 2004 was a game against the New York Knicks.

Ron Artest turned 25 on that date and he had a great birthday present coming for him there. He scored 22 points as the Pacers knocked off the Knicks, 103-97. Jermaine O’Neal and Stephen Jackson added to celebration, scoring 33 points and 19 respectively. O’Neal also had twelve rebounds.

LET’S CELEBRATE GOOD TIMES, COME ON! would probably be the motto for this victory.

But they had to work hard in this one, fighting a lot of fatigue. And also, there were still pretty banged-up.

“It’s always hard to play the minutes we’ve been playing, but we don’t have any choice,” O’Neal said. “Our focus is to win as many games as we need to win to get to the championship. We don’t care who’s on the court as long as we have five to eight guys dressing.”

Stephon Marbury almost led New York to victory by taking away a 21-point lead and cutting it to one. But it still wasn’t enough to stop Indy’s powerhouse squad. However, Marbury finished with 37 points, five assists, and two rebounds. Forward Nazr Mohammed added to Marbury’s total with a season-high 20 points and 15 rebounds.

Next up were the Atlanta Hawks.

Al Harrington was the man for the Hawks. And this was going to be a pumped-up game for him, even though his Hawks are struggling at 2-5. Facing a 5-2 Indy team would be tough. However, Harrington couldn’t deliver enough to beat his former team. The Hawks almost beat Indy.

But almost doesn’t count. You may be almost, but you didn’t get the victory, didn’t you?

However, Harrington had 30 points, six rebounds, and two assists.

“This is what Al’s capable of doing,” Rick Carlisle said. “He’s capable of being a top-level, big-time player and he showed that tonight.”

Jermaine O’Neal, in the words of the Associated Press, “spoiled” Harrington’s special homecoming to Indy. J.O. delivered 25 points and 13 rebounds. With the power forward’s stellar performance, Indy rolled past Atlanta in a 93-86 win.

Stephen Jackson, who was traded to the Pacers for Al Harrington, had nine points in his showing. Ron Artest had 24 points and six rebounds. Austin Croshere was Mr. 13, having both 13 points and 13 boards in the team’s victory.

“It was the best-case scenario,” Croshere said. “Al had a big game and we won.”

Indiana will now be heading to Detroit before a three-game home-stand. Mark that date…November 19, 2004. In this game, something will happen that no one associated with the NBA saw coming.


The Detroit Pistons were coming off a magical season, beating the Los Angeles Lakers in last year’s NBA Finals. Now they were hoping for another run at the title this year.

First things first, though, they had to stop the Houston Rockets in the season-opener.

And they did.

Rasheed Wallace led the Pistons with 24 points in a 87-79 victory over Houston. The other Wallace, Ben, had 15 points and ten rebounds along with four assists. He also had three steals and three blocks.

Tracy McGrady’s 18 points and Yao Ming’s ten rebounds weren’t enough for the victory. The Rockets had a miserable performance in the shooting side, as they were only 39-percent overall.

“We aren’t able to consistently attack on offense,” Yao said.

The third banner was lifted, marking Detroit’s third championship. The other two were back in the days when Isiah Thomas ruled. Chauncey Billups cherished the moment, and so did Richard “Rip” Hamilton.

“You wait so long for this day to happen and when it happens, you just want to cherish it,” said Hamilton. “You forget that you’ve got a game to play.”

The Rockets are hoping that the McGrady-Yao duo will dominate the Kobe-Shaq one. Six years later, we all find out that goal wasn’t fulfilled.

“It’s going to take time, but those two guys are going to be really special together,” Pistons coach Larry Brown said at the time. The Pistons would then head on to Toronto to face the young stud in Chris Bosh as well as McGrady’s cousin, Vince Carter.

“We thought it was going to be a cake walk.”

That’s what Ben Wallace said, as he thought the Pistons would easily slip by the Raptors. However, Toronto knocked them off their socks, going towards a 101-89 victory.

Vince Carter scored twelve points, Chris Bosh had 18, and Loren Woods with 17.

The Pistons were without Larry Brown at the time, and it was reported he would be out for the next ten days because of his hip. Ouch.

“It was our defense that hurt us,” said Gar Heard, who was Brown’s replacement. “We gave up so many easy layups, so many uncontested shots, so many second shots.”

However, Chauncey Billups was able to deliver for Detroit, but it wasn’t enough. Billups had 24 points, six assists, and four rebounds.

Ben Wallace had eleven rebounds and eight assists.

“It’s a great win, especially for a team that’s been counted out before we played our first game,” Carter said.

Detroit hopes to put this embarrassing performance behind them as they face Allen Iverson and the 1-1 Philadelphia 76ers.

This was a cake-walk. Six Detroit-players were in double-digits as they passed by A.I. and the 76ers in a 99-91 victory.

Chauncey Billups out-performed Allen Iverson with 20 points, ten assists, and seven rebounds. However, Iverson beat Billups in the points category, having 31. He also had five rebounds and three steals. But you get see that it was all A.I. in this game, with him having zero assists.

This really made up for the poor defensive effort in the 101-89 loss to the Toronto Raptors. With this victory, Detroit is 2-1. Philadelphia falls to 1-2.

“We’ve got a lot of offensive weapons, but defense is where we make our living,” Billups said. “Tonight, the defense stepped up and made them take a lot of tough shots, and they didn’t make enough of them to beat us.”

Philly couldn’t come through. It was just tough entering the second half.

“They started giving me a lot more attention in the second half — trapping me and doubling,” Allen Iverson said. “So, I started looking for the other guys. That’s what a point guard is supposed to do.”

But yet, it was tough, since his assists total was zero. Head coach Jim O’Brien said that he needed more help.

“Allen can’t always carry the load by himself,” he said. “He’s playing back-to-back games and he’s got to push the ball and defend one of their best players. We need to establish an inside game, but that’s tough to do against Detroit.”

While Philly was fixing themselves, Detroit was on a mission meanwhile. A mission to the Finals again. Detroit was aiming for a 3-1 record as they will try to stop Elton Brand and the Los Angeles Clippers.

It was until overtime the Pistons were acting like their old selves again. The Pistons fought hard in this game, as they pulled a victory out in a double-overtime victory over the Clippers. The Clips were without center Chris Kaman.

Chauncey Billups and Richard Hamilton both had 20 points and helped Detroit knock off Los Angeles in a 99-96 victory.

“We had the game under control,” said assistant coach Gar Heard. “We took a couple of ill-advised shots that gave them some light, but this team showed why they are the champions. They dug in when we had to and won the game.”

Ben Wallace played great and hard for the death of his brother, Sam Jr. Sam Jr. was reported dead early Monday morning. Wallace had 15 points and 14 rebounds.

Corey Maggette was the leader for the Clippers, having 25 points and 19 rebounds. Chris Wilcox had 24 points and Elton Brand had 21.

“On the one hand, I am really proud of the way the guys played,” Los Angeles coach Mike Dunleavy said. “On the other hand, I am disappointed at the way we gave the game away. We had a really good chance at beating this team.”

Though Hamilton and Tayshuan Prince got fouled out in the second-overtime, Detroit still came through. Even when this team is down, their leadership and chemistry finds ways to win.

“That’s a veteran ballclub — the world champions. We have to give them respect, but I think we played hard enough to beat them,” Maggette said. “We did the right things and we executed right, but there were just little mishaps at the end that cost us the game.”

Agreed.

The Pistons can check off Los Angeles on their list. Next up was Carmelo Anthony and the Denver Nuggets.

Carmelo Anthony emerged after his early-season slump, breaking out for 34 points, seven rebounds, five assists, and four steals. The Nuggets played hard and knocked off the Detroit Pistons in a 117-109 victory.

“I needed this night,” Anthony said. “As badly as I was shooting, I needed this one. It was good for me and it was good for my team.”

Richard Hamilton had 25 points, five assists, and three rebounds in the loss. They had to put this off their back. Next up are the Utah Jazz. After that, Detroit will complete the two-game road trip.

The two-game road-trip didn’t end so well. Detroit now is stuck at 3-3 after a 108-93 loss to Carlos Boozer and the Utah Jazz. Boozer had 20 points and 13 rebounds in the showing.

Mehmet Okur put up 19 points and brought down seven rebounds.

“I thought he [Okur] went after the ball on the boards better because he was inspired to play against his old team,” Jazz coach Jerry Sloan said. “He played with a lot more confidence tonight as far as shooting and passing. He’s a very skilled player that way.”

Okur built a 23-point lead and was the top performer to many for today’s victory. Okur shot well, like head coach Jerry Sloan said, as he went five-for-ten on the floor.

“I tried to play just like myself. Nothing special, you know?” Okur said. “I look at my teammates if they’re wide open. If I’m wide open, take the shot. I felt good.”

Andrei Kirilenko had 17 points in the win.

“It wasn’t easy. That’s a very talented team,” Boozer said. “Those guys work hard and they almost came back on us.”

Antonio McDyess was the leader for the Pistons, having 18 points and twelve rebounds. Richard Hamilton had 21 points and six assists. Lindsey Hunter had 14 points and Ben Wallace had ten.

The team had a lot of runs but couldn’t take full advantage of it.

“They made the hustle plays. They beat us on the hustle plays, so you got to tip your hat off to them,” Wallace said. “I ain’t worried about them. We’ll see them again.”

Detroit was now done with the road-trip, and they should be relieved. The Pistons have a three-game run at home. They face the Minnesota Timberwolves next. Next will be the Indiana Pacers on November 19. They’ll finish off against the Charlotte Bobcats.

Larry Brown was back and so were the Pistons after a two-game losing-streak. The Pistons hope to now allow 100 points, after doing that in the last two games. And this game, they did great, beating the Minnesota Timberwolves in a 93-85 win.

“Having Chauncey and Ben back was more important than me, that’s for sure,” Brown said. “Losing those two has a big effect on your team.”

Chauncey missed the loss to Utah but played well with 21 points. He came up big in the third quarter, putting up 15 there.

“I just wanted to be aggressive out there,” he said. “We played the way we play — good defense and we took stuff away from Minnesota.”

Billups also had eight assists and five rebounds.

Kevin Garnett led the Timberwolves with 24 points, 13 rebounds, and four assists in the eight-point loss. Sam Cassell had five assists in the game. Latrell Sprewell had 24 points as well with K.G. in the T-Wolves’ loss.

“Detroit makes it tough on you, because all five of their players go to the basket,” Garnett said. “They make you beat them by shooting jump shots, and you can’t win a game that way.”

Richard Hamilton helped bring in 24 points for Detroit. Tayshuan Prince followed right behind him, adding 19.  Next up were the Indiana Pacers. November 19. It would be all over the headlines an hour after the game would be done. And, boy, what a shocker this was.


Here was the commentary of the Pacers-Pistons brawl right at the 46-second mark in the fourth quarter from ESPN:

“It’s been a very intelligent game tonight. Ben Wallace is fouled and—(Wallace pushes Artest after hard foul)—OH! Wallace, right at Artest! This is going to be serious if people don’t get between this!

“Wallace is upset. The players are trying to hold each other off. Stephen Jackson trying to help out. Jackson yelling. Wallace still going. The coaches need to come in to get him away.

“Jackson challenging Derrick Coleman. Someone should just stop Jackson. That is what just causes the problem. Rasheed Wallace is doing an excellent job in trying to keep everybody away. And he’s trying to keep the peace.

“But it started after Artest putting a hard foul on Wallace after getting behind him. And then Ben Wallace came over with a shove. And an ugly one for this to wind  down. Totally uncalled for.

“I’d like to see the foul again because Wallace passed him and Artest shoved him. That’s when Wallace took exception but you got to let it go. And that’s not that hard of a foul. It’s not a normal foul but it was not that hard. Wallace can’t react that way, Wallace is still charged up.

“Now Wallace, I’d assume, has been ejected. The way Stephen Jackson is acting, they should eject him as well. They need to find a way to get this game over with. The problem is, if Wallace is ejected, he has to go near the Pacers’ bench to go.

“(Ron Artest has cup thrown at him, goes into stands) Ron Artest has jumped onto the scorer’s table! And is trying to get down to the bench! ARTEST IS IN THE STANDS! Oh, this is not good. The fans are getting involved. Jackson is at the fans.

“Rasheed Wallace going into the stands! The security somehow trying to restore order. Fans are going at it and the players are trying to help each other out.

“This is a disgrace. All the players trying to get in there and trying to get all the other players out because the fans have gotten involved.

“Oh, what a sad scene here at the Palace. And now another fight is breaking out, further out at the Pistons’ bench. It’s…it’s a fan on the court! This is very very dangerous.

“The fans have now thrown cups of liquor now on to the court. Ron Artest has a look in his eye that is very scary right now. You wonder if the officials are going to let this game continue, and now the fans are throwing bottles on to the floor.

“They are trying to get the Pacers back into the locker room…..The officials, I think, are going to call this game off and the outcome has definitely been decided. These fans are ridiculous.

“It’s a bad showing from the Pistons’ fans here. The Pacers have all go back to the locker room. There’s a lot of debate but it’s still not done all the way through. (Pistons start pouring drinks on the Pacers). A really bad showing by the Pistons’ fans here.

“This is one of the worst moments in NBA history. Players just have to get out of there, go to the locker room, and forget about it.

“The game has been called and the official has made the decision. The call, which is the right call, as the out-come is over. And the players and fans are in danger. Folks having big tempers.

“It all started with a foul, but Wallace was too hard. The security has done their best to stop this.”

It was one of the craziest games ever witnessed. The game was stopped at 45.9 seconds. The Indiana Pacers were given the victory, 97-82.

“It’s the ugliest thing I’ve seen as a coach or player,” said Pistons coach Larry Brown.

It was known by one of the scariest brawls in NBA history, in a report made by the Associated Press.

“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.”

Ron Artest finished with 24 points and Jermaine O’Neal had 13 rebounds. Artest had punches, and as well as O’Neal. So did Stephen Jackson. Jamaal Tinsley finished with 13 points and three assists.

Rasheed Wallace, who tried to stop the fight, finished with 19 points and ten rebounds. Richard Hamilton had 20 points.

After the brawl, ESPN’s Jim Gray had a chance to speak with Artest about the brawl:

Jim Gray: What happened that led up to this [brawl]?

Ron Artest: I thought it was an OK foul. The refs told me it wasn’t a technical and it wasn’t a flagrant. I think [Ben] Wallace’s reaction was too much. I don’t mind him pushing me. But he also caught me in my nose. I’m not sure what will happen regarding that … I was lying on the table when Wallace threw a towel at me. I got up and then was lying down again when I got hit with a liquid, ice and glass container on my chest and on my face. After that it was self defense.mm

JG: Did anyone from security or police talk to you?

RA: They came in to ask me if I needed [medical] help. I just thanked them to help me get out of the building. … I can’t say anything else on the advice of [Pacers CEO/president Donnie Walsh].

Here’s what several NBA players said in a column written by ESPN:

Quentin Richardson of the Phoenix Suns watched the brawl on TV.

“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.”

There’s a few more pieces I’d like to share. Here’s a little excerpt for what Bill Walton said about the brawl for ESPN:

There’s no other way to put it: I was stunned and flabbergasted by what I personally witnessed on the court at the end of the Detroit Pistons and Indiana Pacers game Friday night. The shock, dismay and sadness has not diminished at all with time, as I’ve been sickened and repulsed while reflecting back on the mindless and senseless violence that took place that evening.

This is my 30th year with the NBA, and Friday night was, without a doubt, the low point.

I’ve just been over-the-top saddened and embarrassed – the whole time struggling desperately and mightily to figure out ways to move forward from this madness. This is the NBA, professional basketball. It is supposed to be about fun. It is supposed to be about going to an event to have a good time. As I consider what got us to this place, I’m reminded of the strategically placed poster that I have on my office wall. It’s got a big, beautiful eagle soaring above a majestic scene. The caption reads: “An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.”

And now, more than ever, is a time for everyone to see.

It is a privilege and an honor to play in the NBA, and many people in that game Friday night abrogated those privileges and disgraced the honor of the NBA. This league has been built on the blood, sweat and tears of thousands upon thousands of people. The awful nature of the developments Friday night in Detroit – players going into the stands, fighting fans – has an incredible impact on every aspect of the game.

Everyone of us who has ever been involved with the NBA is now going to have to go to great lengths to explain ourselves. All the goodwill and capital that has been built up over decades has been severely damaged.

A follow-up to that is what George Karl wrote at ESPN:

It’s as if a bomb went off, and it will take days and weeks to identify the damage that was done.

The impact is being felt beyond the game of basketball.

It’s a commentary on how we deal with anger and frustration in our social structure.

It goes deep, and it was painful to witness.

Yes, the brawl in the fourth quarter of the Indiana Pacers-Detroit Pistons game that spilled into the stands at the Palace at Auburn Hills last Friday night will have a lasting effect.

The sociological impact was on view the day after the brawl, when Clemson football coach Tommy Bowden blamed his team’s melee with South Carolina on the previous night’s NBA meltdown. It appears that we’re moving in a dangerous direction in the sports world, and I hope we can reverse the trend.

My disappointment and distaste for this subject is palpable. Regarding the actions of the players and the fans involved, I can’t begin to defend a defenseless situation. No type of reasoning or rationalization can be interpreted as an apology for those actions. They were disgraceful, disheartening, disturbing — and many other “dis” words apply.

I’m concerned that videotape of this event will be replayed too often on TV. We’ll be dealing with it for a long time. For me, I want to learn from it and move on rather than keep rehashing it.

But to learn from it, we need to understand some of the contributing factors. To start, verbal abuse from fans tends to depend on the player. Certain players — Ron Artest, for example — are lightning rods for some fans.


The Pacers-Pistons brawl changed a lot of things. Security was much more aware of things after this brawl. The outcome didn’t turn out so well for much of the players.

Ron Artest would have the biggest suspension in sports history, being out for the remainder of the season, which would result in 86 games. He would have to serve 60 hours of community service. Artest was also fined for over $4M.

Stephen Jackson was suspended for 30 games, had 60 hours of community service, and was fined for over $1M.

Jermaine O’Neal would have to spend 60 hours of community service like his fellow teammates and was suspended for 15 games. He was originally suspended for 25 games, but it was reduced to 15 upon appeal. He would be fined for over $4M.

Here was how the other fines were made:

  • Ben Wallace: Suspended for six games, fined $4K.
  • Anthony Johnson: Suspended five games, 100 hours of community service, fined over $122K.
  • Reggie Miller: Suspended one game, fined for over $61K.
  • Chauncey Billups: Suspended one game, fined for over $60K.
  • Derrick Coleman: Suspended one game, fined $50K
  • Elden Campbell: Suspended one game, fined over $48K.
  • David Harrison: Unpublicized.

In an episode of NBA Shootaround, the analysts, such as Stephen A. Smith, said the fans were to blame. ESPN vice president Mark Shapiro said the analysts were a bit biased in what they said.

In conclusion for ESPN, 46-percent of fan voters said the fans were to blame. The other 52-percent were blamed on the players, most notably Ron Artest and Ben Wallace, who were the guys that started the whole thing. Artest went overboard.

About a month later on December 25th, the Pacers and Pistons played for the first time since the brawl. Ron Artest and Stephen Jackson were unavailable for the game, due to suspensions. However, Jermaine O’Neal played due to his suspension of 15 games. It was his first game since the brawl.

The Detroit Pistons would go on to win, 98-93. But I wonder what would have happened if Jackson and Artest were there.

Security rules were changed after the brawl. The NBA made a public announcement on February 17, 2005, saying that the size limit of alcohol would be 700 mL, or 24 ounces. The hard cap would be two alcoholic beverages per person.

On March 25, 2005, the game was delayed for 90 minutes due to reported bomb threats against the Pacers in their locker room. But they found out that no explosives were discovered, and the game began.

The Pacers won, 94-81, ending the Pistons’ twelve-game winning-streak. Both teams would finish off as making the playoffs.

Indy would finish as the sixth seed, Detroit as the second. The Pacers finished with a record of 44-38 and the Pistons ten games ahead with a record of 54-28.

The Pacers would enter the first round against the Boston Celtics. Indy played hard and barely got passed them in a seven-game series. Meanwhile, the Detroit Pistons would pass by their opponent in the Philadelphia 76ers in a four-game sweep.

Entering the second round, it was between the Pacers and Pistons.

In the first game, it finally felt like real basketball in the Palace of Auburn Hills. The Pistons would slip by, beating Indy 96-83 to take a 1-0 lead in the Semifinals.

“It was good to see the focus on basketball,” said Ben Wallace, the NBA Defensive Player of the Year. “We sort of left the past in the past and that’s a good thing for both teams, and the league.”

Jermaine O’Neal finished off strong with 22 points and seven rebounds. Richard Hamilton led the Pistons with 28 points. Jeff Foster had 13 rebounds for Indy. Ben Wallace played great, grabbing 15 rebounds along with Chauncey Billups’ seven assists.

“I thought Ben Wallace really dominated a lot of the activity in this game, and he set an unbelievable tone,” Indy head coach Rick Carlisle said.

Entering Game Two and Three, the Pacers won. The first game was a 92-83 victory, led by Jeff Foster’s 20 rebounds and 14 points. The second was a 79-74 win, led by Jamaal Tinsley’s 16 points.

Entering Game Four, the Pacers were trying to pull off an upset, already having a commanding 2-1 lead. All the momentum, however, went away after Game Four when the Pistons won, 89-76.

Chauncey Billups would lead the team with 29 points and six assists. Reggie Miller, who helped the Pacers clinch the victory in Game Three off important shots (like he has been doing since he entered the league) did not play so well today.

After Game Five, in a 86-67 win for Detroit, it was over from there. With a 3-2 lead, Detroit ended Indy’s hopes to take it to Game Seven in Conseco Fieldhouse off a 88-79 win.

Sadly, this would be Reggie Miller’s final game. The 39-year-old sharpshooter would finish as one of the greatest. In Bill Simmons’ The Book of Basketball, he ranked Reggie as one of the Top 65 players of all-time.

Billups saw it as a sad experience seeing Mr. Clutch retire. Miller would finish as the twelfth-leading scorer, and played 18 years in the league. Miller would finish with 27 points.

Richard Hamilton was sad as well.

“It was definitely very emotional,” Hamilton said. “I don’t think I’ve ever been in a game where a team that’s about to move on and a guy comes out of the game and the other team is cheering.

“For a guy his age, the way he played tonight was unbelievable.”

For the 2004-05 season, the Pacers journey had come to an end. And so had Reggie’s, who never had won a title. At least he appeared in one, against the Lakers. But they couldn’t finish off.

The Pistons would then head over to face Dwyane Wade and the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals. The barely slipped by in a seven-game series.

In the NBA Finals, the Detroit Pistons would then face the San Antonio Spurs. The journey didn’t end so well, as Tim Duncan beat the team in a seven-game series.

The 2004-05 season had come to an end. And it had many high notes, but one really bad one.


Here’s how each player has turned out as of 2010 for for on each team’s 2004-05 roster:

Detroit Pistons

  • Carlos Arroyo: Current point guard for the Miami Heat
  • Chauncey Billups: Traded to the Denver Nuggets in 2008 in exchange for Allen Iverson. Billups would turn out to be more successful here. He is still currently the point guard for them.
  • Elden Campbell: Retired
  • Derrick Coleman: Retired
  • Carlos Delfino: Currently playing for the Toronto Raptors.
  • Ronald Dupree: Currently playing for the Utah Jazz
  • Anthony Goldwire: Currently playing in Spain
  • Darvin Ham: Retired
  • Richard Hamilton: Still present with the team
  • Lindsey Hunter: Retired
  • Horace Jenkins: Currently plays in Italy
  • Antonio McDyess: Currently a center for the San Antonio Spurs
  • Darko Milicic: Currently a center for the Minnesota Timberwolves
  • Smush Parker: Retired
  • Tayshuan Prince: Present with team
  • Ben Wallace: Went to play with the Chicago Bulls and the Cleveland Cavaliers. Returned to the team in 2009. Still present with them.
  • Rasheed Wallace: Went to play for the Boston Celtics. Still undecided. Most likely retired.

Indiana Pacers

  • Ron Artest: Current small forward for the Los Angeles Lakers.
  • Jonathan Bender: Currently playing for the New York Knicks
  • Austin Croshere: Retired
  • Michael Curry: Associate head coach of the Philadelphia 76ers
  • Dale Davis: Retired
  • John Edwards: Retired
  • Jeff Foster: Present with team
  • Tremaine Fowlkes: Retired
  • Eddie Gill: Retired
  • Marcus Haislip: Free Agent
  • David Harrison: Currently playing in China
  • Stephen Jackson: Currently playing for the Charlotte Bobcats
  • Britton Johnsen: Retired
  • Anthony Johnson: Free Agent
  • Fred Jones: Currently playing in Italy
  • James Jones: Currently playing for the Miami Heat
  • Reggie Miller: Retired
  • Jermaine O’Neal: Currently playing for the Boston Celtics
  • Scot Pollard: Retired
  • Jamaal Tinsley: Currently playing for the Memphis Grizzlies

On December 16, 2006, a brawl happened between the New York Knicks and the Denver Nuggets. It wasn’t as serious or as big as the Pacers-Pistons brawl, but it goes to show you that the security still has to be much more aware of what is going on.

The Pacers haven’t made it to the playoffs since 2006, recording a 41-41 record but getting dropped in the first round by the New Jersey Nets in a six-game series.

Since then, the team is in rebuilding mode with a guy that is hoping to be their leader of the future in Danny Granger.

The Detroit Pistons haven’t made it to the playoffs since 2009, finishing with a 39-43 record but getting swept by LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers in the first round. The team has a lot of hopeful guys, including draft pick Greg Monroe.

With LeBron out, more contention will be placed in the NBA Central, mostly between the Bucks, Pacers, Pistons, and Bulls.

The Pacers-Pistons brawl has impacted a lot of people. Many haven’t forget about it and when you do, it still stirs up debate. Many topics lure of who would’ve won a fight: Ron or Ben?

Many want to forget about this. It’s something that people would not want to see again.

A few years ago, rapper Ludacris made a song about the brawl. It was forgotten about in my memory. But it was brought back to my mind when I heard the lyrics in the song “Undisputed:

“Back up on that ass.

Back to put rappers on one knee like they ‘bout run a 100-meter dash.

Bow down to the greatness,

Before I get pissed and I run up in the stand like the Indiana Pacers.”

From that point, it made me want to start this project. I hope people don’t take offense on this book article. As an Indiana Pacers’ fan, I was shocked to see this happen.

And every time I watch a Pacers-Pistons game, it always brings back memories to what happened on November 19, 2004.

And to many, that day shall be known as The Malice at the Palace.

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