Malice in the Palace: Former Pacers Teammates Recap the Ugliest Scene in Modern NBA

November 7, 2020 4:00 pm

Be it the sudden dismantling of the Bulls in 1998, the Gold Club scandal, or LeBron James’ decision to leave the Cavs, the NBA has seen its fair share of infamous moments. But the one that involved Indiana Pacers and Detroit Pistons remains the craziest of all.

This notorious incident took place in 2004, when both sides totally screwed and lost their calm. The two stars from the Pacers that remained the face of the brawl were Stephen Jackson and Ron Artest. It was a night to forget, at least for David Stern.

The Malice at the Palace: From the eyes of Pacers’ teammates

It was Nov 19, 2004, and the venue was the Palace at Auburn Hills, Detroit. The Pacers were 97-82 ahead with 45 seconds remaining when something disastrous took place. Metta World Peace went against his name and shoved Ben Wallace while Ben was inside the paint. Ben retaliated, and this led to the entire bench erupting with anger. A fight between two teams then shifted to a fight between Pistons’ fans and the Pacers teammates.

In a recent interview, Stephen revealed, “It was the tension, you could feel it before, in warmups. I did not know the magnitude of the rivalry between the two. But I’m game, I’m down.”

Ron Artest took the opportunity to keep his views on the table. He exclaimed, “Sorry to put you in that position. I don’t know what he would have done, but I am sorry because I kind of know you’re the real one. [I know] things happen and you jump in, I learned a lot from that. I don’t take my friends out. My certain friends at that time, I always make sure were in the best… I even have security come, just to protect my friends, and you’re real one.”

World Peace had 24 points (7-19 FG) and Stephen had 13 points of his on 5/12, in that game which was attributed as a dark spot on the history of the league.


Why was this the most infamous incident?

Stephen Jackson on that night, specifically, went even further and charged both against the crowd and the Pistons. He remembered, “You could feel the tension, bro. I knew it was a good team, everybody said we could possibly win the championship. So this game against them, we blow them out. He had a great game, I had a good game… we was on a good start. At the end of the game, I’m at the free-throw line, I turn around, I had Jamaal say something to you, next thing I know ‘Nah I’m going at Ben’.”

That was a disturbing night. First, the match did not finish as they took both sides to their respective locker rooms. Second, the crowd was involved and it could’ve led to serious injuries (even stampede) if things were not controlled timely.

Center Jermaine O’Neal had a sliding punch on a fan, and that was totally uncalled. Even David Wallace was later charged for hitting Fred Jones. This led to many players getting assault charges/suspension on their names, while some had to pay fine and promise community services. 

The people who watched it live remember how Larry Brown had to step up and ask the crowd to calm down. It was quite a fight and its tension remained in the air when they again faced in EC playoffs that year.

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