“Heard Words Like Thug and Criminals”: Jermaine O’Neal Makes Heartbreaking Revelations After Untold’s Netflix Release

Published 08/10/2021, 2:13 PM EDT
PORTLAND, OR – NOVEMBER 28: Jermaine O’Neal #7 of the Indiana Pacers adjusts his headband against the Portland Trail Blazers on November 28, 2006 at the Rose Garden in Portland, Oregon. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)


Despite all the fun and frolic sporting events possess, there are many dark days as well. The NBA is home to huge brawls and takedowns ever since the league came into existence. The famous duel between Bird and Erving in 1984, and the battles between the Charles’ (Barkley & Oakley) come to people’s minds for all the wrong reasons. But none of these affected the league like the ‘Malice at the Palace’. Indiana Pacers icon Jermaine O’Neal opened up in a podcast about the dark days which followed that incident.

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A Netflix documentary named Untold-‘Malice at the Palace’ aired on the platform, showing the aftermath of the incredible brawl that happened on the 19th of November 2004.

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Jermaine O’Neal opens up on the huge brawl

The documentary reveals former players talking about incidents that happened on that day. However, Jermaine O’Neal still recalls that day to be the darkest memory of his life.

“Some of the most respected people that I respect even to this day had a lot to say about it, and I didn’t believe they did the very thing that made them respected, which was taking the real information. Do your homework. It was a quick-to-judgment scenario, that was… you heard words like ‘thug’ and ‘criminals’ and all kinds of crazy, wild stuff that was said. And that was, for me, that was personal.”

“Because not only was that said about me and my teammates but also, most importantly, it was my peers in the NBA. My league, that has awarded me the opportunity to live out a dream and take care of my family. The Indiana Pacers, the Detroit Pistons,” said O’Neal.

It’s been 17 years since that day, and the scars remain for Jermaine. No other game in the NBA has seen altercations between fans and players like the night in Detroit. The match between Pistons and Pacers is a gentle reminder of how things can go wrong with a single spark of utter foolishness.

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The Malice at the Palace

It all started when the score was 97-82 when the Pistons led the Pacers in the Palace of Auburn Hills. Sparks flew when Ron Artest (Metta Sandiford-Artest) delivered a hard foul on Ben Wallace; who shoved him away. As Artest left the scene to lie down on the broadcaster’s table, a fan threw a glass from the stands which, likewise, hit on Ron’s face.

The next 20 minutes saw all hell break loose.

Artest rushed to the stands and delivered a knockout punch to a fan. Soon after, other people joined in against Artest while Stephen Jackson got into the act as well by delivering enormous blows. There were players throwing punches everywhere. There were incidents when cops tried to scare the players off with pepper spray.

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Likewise, there were officials on the floor trying to separate the players, children crying in fear, and cops trying to calm down the proceedings. Significantly, most of the players got hit with huge penalties for their antics during the brawl. NBA commissioner, David Stern, delivered a 86 game ban for Artest, for igniting the whole brawl. Jermaine O’Neal got banned for 15 games and lost $4,510,975 for the mess created.

Even new rules for fans in attendance came into play. The incident saw a significant decrease in the amount of alcohol provided to fans in the arena. Thus, it marked the day when the entire landscape of the NBA changed for good.

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Basketball fans would remember the incident between these two teams for the rest of their lives. Many people left the arena scarred for life because of the ugly turn of events. However, fan and player interactions have improved despite the ‘Malice at the Palace’.

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Jacob Gijy

397 articles

Jacob Gijy is an NBA writer at EssentiallySports. Gijy finished his Masters in Counselling Psychology and worked in a hospital for 2 years before his passion for sports compelled him to find his way to sports journalism. A fan of the great Tim Duncan, he is always ready to pick up a debate with anyone who does not offer the centre the respect he deserves.

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