Just finished reading this article minutes before you posted it. It was definitely very interesting, especially looking back on it when you remember watching the brawl on TV.
OT: Comprehensive Grantland Article on Malice at the Palace
My only comment is that, while it definitely ruined their team that year, front office and personal decisions are most likely what has killed their team since.
Plus, I can't read Grantland. I... I just can't...
The front office ultimately puts the team together so in that respect you are right, but this incident absolutely ruined the Pacers at every level of the organization. There were calls to get rid of the players involved the day following the incident. The following season, with the majority of the roster returning, things still weren't "right" within the organization and amongst the fans. There was an uneasiness. Hoosiers are a proud bunch. They did not want to be associated with this team.
The only way the team could ever move forward was to clean house of those involved, from the players to the front office. Most of the team is no longer around, (we may have one guy left: Jeff Foster) and the front office is new, even the beloved Donnie Walsh has gone elsewhere.
The old regime put together a talented and in many ways explosive team. The new brass has put together a competitive squad of "high character" guys. The only way to ever move forward was to start over, and the fans are finally coming back.
Why did Artest request a trade? The article didn't make that point clear.
Artest/World Peace is a good example that there is more to the game than hops and shots. He is fortunate to have landed with the Lakers and to have a title. As I mentioned in another post, I wasn't sorry to see him leave Chicago. Derrick Rose, while being very gifted athletically, is far, far, more of a team player than Artest ever was or will be. And MJ never had real success until he learned that it was a team game, and not just one star with a cast of interchangable supporting characters.
The betrayal that Jackson and O'Neal felt after Artest requested a trade was the most interesting part of the oral history. Something I'd never thought about.
I find it quite enjoyable and have been a Simmons fan for a long time....
And I respect that others like to read Grantland, but I can't do it.
He started focusing on the excellent "30 for 30" documentaries and his podcast (which was a bummer because I have more opportunities to read discretely than listen discretely). It just seemed like he began to rely on some of his more popular gimmicks in his articles, to the point where every article seemed to boil down to some mix of gambling, Jersey Shore, and (borderline excessive) Boston homerism. I mean, it just got old when every week it was talking about how great (insert member of Big Three here) is, or taking a shot at Kobe, or comparing some current sports drama to a fight on last weeks Jersey Shore.
Again, I respect that others enjoy Simmons, I'm just not one of them anymore. I used to enjoy his football breakdowns until that became a podcast thing, though.
The quick escalation of the Malice was insane. From hard fouls on the court leading to fans getting punched while standing on hte court!
I actually was at the game and it was almost a surreal feeling at the end. The group I was with was in a suite and the security teams came up probably 10-15 min after and gave us the choice to leave or be locked in the suite. We actually sat and watched a lot of the footage on tv from inside the palace. By the time we left I think that there were state, local, county police everywhere as they were concerned over fans rioting. I thought it was fairly calm and organized walking out of the building, but it was something to see.
"I am 6'4" and close to 300 pounds ..."
Whoa! I didn't necessarily expect anything specific, but you're a big dude.
Donnie Walsh (CEO and president, Pacers): Ronnie did try to get away from it because he had been told, "If you see yourself getting too excited, disengage and get yourself out of it and get your thoughts together." That's why he went down and laid down on the table. It was so he wouldn't get all excited and do something wrong.
Bull fucking shit
If Artest was disengaging, he should have gone to the bench and sat down. I felt him laying down on the table was like taunting. And why the hell is he giving a hard foul when they had the game won? Fuck him.
See, this is strange. I was watching live that night, have seen it many times since, and always thought that Artest was trying to do that- walk away/disengage. I thought it live, I think it now. I didn't think that was up for debate. It was after that-- while he was lying down-- that things went from "crappy NBA fight" to "all out shit-show," and the moment when it turned was when Artest, while lying down, got pelted with a full drink.. Really, the pattern-- a person "disengaging" from a quickly-escalating situation, then to flip it back on immediately at a seemingly-lesser provocation--- is one that, if you've witnessed many street fights/altercations, isn't uncommon, and is psychologically explainable: heightened emotions and adrenaline.
But why lie down on the scorer's table? That's not normal behavior. That would be considered provocative in pretty much any situation. (Not that it in any way justifies the fan's throwing of the drink, of course.)
who changed his name to Metta World Peace, lying down the on scorer's table was probably his version of a normal person walking to the locker room.
Ahhhh. Thank you. They may have thought that him laying on the table was disengaging. But after the hard foul, and the large lead, and on an opponent's court, it looked like he was just showing what he could get away with. I was kind of shocked when I read that statement. That wasn't disengaging, that was taunting.
I can see how you would say that. I just look at the same thing and have a different opinion. Also, Stephen Jackson is insane- I think we can all agree on that. At the same time, holy shit, if I were in a foxhole, I'd want that guy with me. His loyalty, while reckless and damaging to many, many people, is admirable.
He might not have meant it as a taunt. But Ben Wallace might have felt like it was, still yelling at him, while he's lying down playing with headphones. And he was still out in the open, which was where that idiot could target him with a cup filled with beer. If he had been sitting on the bench, he would have been surrounded by his players and staff, so it would be far less likely for him to be hit by a beer and go off.
Jackson certainly didn't help things, yelling back at the Pistons and then following Artest into the stands. I am far more sympathetic to Pacers who punched those idiot fans who went onto the floor to talk shit to them.
that was an unbelieveable read. wow.
I remember listening to one of the Detroit radio shows shortly after the thing went down, and someone called in who was at the game with the guy Artest mistakenly attacked in the stands. Apparently the exchange didn't happen exactly as described in the article. The caller was laughing because when Artest grabbed the guy and said, "did you do it?" the guy responded with his full name - "I didn't do it, Ron Artest!"
I don't post often, but this topic made me have to respond. The guy that he mistakenly attacked was my wife's brother. He was scared to death seeing such a big dude coming at him. He thought Artest was going to attack the idiot sitting next to him, but he got attacked instead. It is true.....he did say "it wasn't me Ron Artest". To this day we laugh about how that was his response. However he did get his picture on the cover of Sports Illustrated.
"He was scared to death . . . " I can believe it. So, did Artest grab him and shake him? What was your brother-in-law's take on the whole thing? The whole thing just sounds terrifying.
If I remember right he said Artest grabbed his throat and then had a death grip on his collar and pulled him on the ground. At this time Jackson went in the stands and was standing next to Artest and my brother in law's friend threw a beer at Jackson to get him away and then he got punched. To this day my wife's brother doesn't like talking about it.
That was a good article, of the behind-the-scenes kind you don't normally see, but I sure wouldn't call it "comprehensive." It was seven-eighths Pacer perspective plus Jim Gray going "Detroit is full of dickheads."
Also, Stephen Jackson comes off like a thug. A thug who knows what he's doing is thuggery and not socially acceptable, but a thug.
O'Neal, on the other hand, sounds pretty reasonable. Except for one thing: he's brain-dead if he can't see the connection between "the hip-hop mentality" that the players are accused of, and the gangsta attitude of guys like Jackson. Jermaine, it's not the music itself, it's that Stephen Jackson sounds like a fucking Crip.
Edit for clarification re: Jackson - the Jackson of 2004 comes off that way. Less so today.
It is mostly from the Pacer perspective, but that makes sense if you think about it. It wasn't really a Pistons vs. Pacers thing; it was Pacers vs. fans that made the national news. The Pistons weren't that involved once it spilled into the crowd. And the Pistons had a friendly crowd, so they weren't going to have anything thrown on them.
In one sense you're spot on, but it still comes off slanted. Jackson is saying crap like he was worried about what would happen when the "felons" in the upper deck started coming down. Really? I get that the Pacers' perspective would be that everyone was against them, but since all they saw were the fans who went after them, guess what the impression becomes? And the only Detroit voices quoted (probably selectively) were only quoted with things like "welp, another black mark on the city."
Agreed. That point is especially ridiculous. I've sat pretty much everywhere you can at the Palace (courtside once, upper deck several times, lower deck several times). Especially then when tickets were hard to come by, it's just a ridiculous statement. I understand the mentality that a lower socio-economic class citizen would have worse tickets, but come on.
I always sat in the nose bleeds. It's good to know that I intimidate Steven Jackson despite not being a felon.
Way up there intimidating them with our open mouthed "wtf is happening."
Yeah, that part was annoying. Also, it would have been nice to have had Bill Laimbeer's views on the fight as well (since he apparently was calling the game).
"Eh, I've been in worse fights."
The author says in the epilogue he requested interviews with Rasheed and Rip, but that they never responded. Wonder why he didn't try to interview Ben, but I'd expect the Pistons managemenet wouldn't be thrilled with revisiting the story. Point is, you can't force people to sit for an interview.
Jim Gray is still a douchebag.
i came away thinking that piece had a very pro-pacer slant and was written in a way that made detroit look bad.
the way they describe "20,000 fans throwing chairs and ready to fight" really seems a bit exaggerated to me. at one point, one of the pacers comments that he was afraid for his life beause he was worried the "thugs" from the upper decks were making their way towards the stands, as if they were some maurading gang of mongols.
i would hardly call that situation life-threatening for the players.
The point is that that's how they perceived it. The point of oral history isn't to get at absolute truth, it's to understand how someone perceived the events going on around them, and how those perceptions shaped their actions.
I remember watching that game and giving up on it with 4-5 minutes left, figuring it was over. Whoops.
Great article. I never knew that part about the Pacers rushing out to dodge the police after the game.
Had to get up early to head down to Columbus the next day....it was the Eve of the Ohio State game. Instead I'm calling everyone who was going saying "turn on the game...all hell is breaking loose!"
Nothing compares to that memory.
Also, the weakest part of the article was Reggie Miller begging the police officer to stow his pepper spray so it wouldn't ruin his suit. How fitting.
I remember exactly where I was on 9/11 and the Pistons brawl.
It was an interesting read, but I agree with some other posters that it was very much favoring the Pacers. What sickens me is how much the fans are spoken ill of here. Yes, it was wrong for the fans who were throwing things or to try and push the altercation forward to do so. However I strongly disagree that this was "all the Pistons fault" as alluded to at the beginning of the article, or that the fans were solely at fault.
Without question, this thing escalated like crazy. But to me there's still no excuse for Artest to run into the stands with intent to retaliate (and eventual success). It was certainly wrong for the fan who threw the drink at him, but, as the argument has been rehashed over and over since the incident, Artest as player needs to be above that and not go into the stands. That's where it begins and that's where it gets really out of hand.
I disagree also with the "he was laying on the table to calm down" notion. He was, in my opinion, clearly showboating.
I do agree that some of the people involved were just trying to do good and were in a fight for what they thought were their lives. I can understand what some of them were thinking and trying to do.
In the end, no one is innocent here, but in my opinion, it's preposterous to paint the Pacers as misunderstood heroes here.
You know in Home Alone 2 when Kevin and Buzz get into that little fight and then Buzz lays on the apology as disgustingly thick as he can so that when Kevin spazzes out, he looks even worse than before? That's what Artest was doing by laying on the scorer's table, IMO. Showboating, yes.... in that way that says, "everybody look at me and give me credit for being so calm and remorseful."
You nailed it.
I personally don't think that the article is painting the Pacers as any sort of "hero." But maybe I'm a bit of a homer? Anyway, to me it painted the brawl in a different viewpoint, that of the Pacers players and personnel. Anyone of us who hasn't played professional sports has viewed this situation as most have: as fans. If you have attempted to put yourself in the Pacers/Pistons position you surely could not have done it justice.
I believe if you ask anyone (fans, NBA players, NFL, MLB players) the vast majority would say that Artest was wrong to go into the stands, but I'm sure opinions would differ regarding the situation after that amongst fans and athletes. I think that's why the fans are spoken ill of. It's given from a players and personnel perspective. The piece would have a completely different feel if written from a fans viewpoint.
FWIW the only person Pacer's fans were ever really pissed off at besides Artest, Jackson, and O'Neil was Wallace. Most of us, atleast the 18-30 male demographic, agreed we'd probably get caught up in the "mob mentality." BUT, there is no way I'd ever get on the court as a fan in that situation.
Few people know this, but Picasso did a famous painting of the Pistons-Pacer melee in 1937.
Original available here: http://www.wizznutzz.com/guernica.html
Did I just write that in a forum on a sports blog?
There are so many guilty parties . . .
- The fan who threw the drink.
- The fans who went on to the floor.
- The lack of security and police presence.
- The failure of the refs to call fouls.
- The thug mentality among so many of the players.
No one comes off looking good in this. But the chief culprit, which I believe the article portrayed as being guilty, was Metta World Peace, formerly known as "Ron Artest." He went after Wallace, he laid on the scorekeeper's table, he horsed around, he went into the stands, he lost his mind. As a Bulls fan, I was not sad to see him leave Chicago, talent that he was.
I do think that there are some Detroit and Pistons homers at this site, but I suppose that's to be expected. You can see, however, that it is critical for the league to have zero tolerance for this kind of thing ever happening again.
If you watch the full video, Ben throws his wristband at Artest seconds before the beer is thrown. Gotta think that kinda set it off. Here's a link if anyone is interested: http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-169695640295285298
Watching it all is mind-numbing. After that, I have to add Ben Wallace to those at blame. The article makes clear that he was personally distraught from the death of his brother the week before. Still, the NBA has plenty of hard fouls. There is some element of "losing face," and if you get a hard foul, you feel you have to respond.
Also, I will never fault an official for taking a hard line and ejecting a player or players. The officials let the game get out of hand, and should have dealt with the chippiness a lot earlier.
Lastly, just looking at the video, it does reflect poorly on the Palace and on Detroit fans. If you're a Detroit homer and think the article and the coverage is biased, watch the full video with and without audio, and then tell me you think the fans were fine.
I don't know what Stern has in place, but I have to believe they will do whatever they can to keep something like this from ever happening again. It also makes me wonder if any NBA teams will think twice before drafting anyone involved in the Cincinatti - Xavier brawl eariler this year.
Yes, Wallace over-recacted. At the point Artest fouled him, the game was over, and according to Jackson, another Pacer was essentially telling him to get a payback foul in:
Stephen Jackson (guard/forward, Pacers): [Toward] the end of the game, I recall somebody on the team told Ron, "You can get one now." I heard it. I think somebody was shooting a free throw. Somebody said to Ron, "You can get one now," meaning you can lay a foul on somebody who he had beef with in the game.
And according to Wallace, before the foul Artest said he was going to hit him. Still, Wallace could have walked away. And if the officials had done a better job controlling the game before this point, it might never have gotten to this point. After Wallace shoved Artest, you can see Jackson running around playing tough guy looking for a fight--most of the other players are trying to hold their guys back and help cool Wallace down. Once the fan throws the beer in Artest's face, like I said in an earlier post, what Artest did was wrong, but I understand his instant reaction. Jackson's the one who is completely out of control, though. If he's jumping into the crowd too, his only reason should be to pull Artest back. That's how you protect your guy: you pull him away from an escalating situation.
As for the end when the players are going through the tunnel and the fans showering the players with debris, I honestly do think if the same level of rivalry and hard fouls and players going into the stands to fight happened nearly anywhere else, there would have been a similar reaction. By that point all hell had already broken lose.
At the time, I thought Artest's punishment was too harsh, but I do see the wisdom of it: no player should go up into the stands to fight a fan. Let someone else (the police, team officials, whoever) deal with the retaliation. The players are highly paid professionals. They have a duty to their team, the league and their profession. They shoould be held to a higher standard than some drunken fan in the stands.
A hard foul is "this game is tight and we're not giving up any easy baskets, and sure as hell aren't giving up an 'and 1', so make your FTs bitch".
That's a premeditated game no longer in doubt cheap shot from behind. Even Jackson says at the end of the article he doesn't blame Wallace at all. And blames Artest more.
The ESPN announcers assign basically zero blame to the Pacer players. "And now we see a fan on the court and Artest punches him in the face. Terrible showing by the fans."
Some of the fans behaved terribly indeed, but you know, that doesn't exactly justify charging after them and throwing haymakers, either.
Artest still comes across as a jackass, despite some of the excuses made for him. We do know a bit more of the back story from this article: other Pacers were egging Artest on to commit a hard foul at the end of the game. In addition to the flagrant foul, Artest taunted Wallace and Wallace reacted. As someone else pointed out, Artest was showboating stretched out on the scorers table. But the one who comes off worst for me is Jackson. I can understand Artest flipping out about having beer thrown in his face. He was wrong to react the way he did, but in the heat of the moment, I can understand the reaction. Jackson's the one who comes across as completely unprofessional and unrepentent, not having the sense even in hindsight to realize he was making the situation worse and helping in the escalation.
For those of you pissed at this story, you might want to take a few breaths before going to this link of youtube video of the incident. The game commentator and especially the ESPN studio talking heads seem to think 95% of the blame goes to Ben Wallace and the Piston fans.
I thought it was a great read, and definitely showed how crazy the situation became in a matter of seconds. One thing I kind of forgot, but which came clear during the oral history, is just how crazy that Pacers team was, with Captain Jack, Artest, and to a lesser extent O'Neal being somewhat loose cannons. I'm not saying they wouldn't have been a heavy favorite to win the East (and the title) if the brawl didn't occur, but that team had the trappings of one that blows up on itself during a long season.
Very interesting read.
O'Neil makes hardly any sense at all (the author kept correcting him in the footnotes) except for one of his last quotes about how the brawl effected the good people of Indy. That was a very poignant observation.
There really isn't any purpose for this article. All it does is continue the media's infatuation with linking Detroit to violence. Almost all national stories about Detroit, whether in the news, sports, or even financial section, have something to do with violence or mass exodus.
I saw the replay in the tiny island nation of Palau! I was walking by a TV when I noticed Piston basketball highlights. I knew something major had happened because they did not show American sports there. It was international news. It was definitely insinuated that race/hip-hop culture was to blame at that time. Although in the not too distant past, hockey players have fought fans in the stands, and there were no racial overtones to those incidents.
As an aside, I was a big fan of Simmons for his earlier work, but I am not a fan of podcasts. I prefer written material. Also, Grantland is not as good as I hoped. I think the initial Page 2 of ESPN with Simmons, Hunter S Thompson and Ralph Wiley among others was more original and entertaining.
Frankly, I think that MGoBlog is the best the Internet has to offer in the way of deep, informative material, humor, snark and camaraderie. It has great original content and links and commentary to major sports and events. In less than 50 comments on this subject, we have discussions of sports, violence, race, society, art and international relations. To continue another theme around here, I am currently drinking a Bass ale, the original pale ale. Cheers.
A lot of data points led to what went down. The biggest miss was the Palace staff not removing the prick who threw the first beer at half time when they confronted him. Remove him and no brawl. Blame Artest all you want but the felon in the stands, who lived next door to the prosecutor!, was the worst bad actor. The guy had priors and had been banned from other venues as well.
You can point blame at anyone you want, but there are really only two people to blame. Ron Artest and the fan who threw the drink.
Seeing as the drink was in a plastic cup and that Artest was not even minorly injured by it, his decision to charge into the stands stands as one of the worst in-game decisions by a pro athlete in decades. Yeah, it sucks to get hit by something. I'm sure it stung a bit. But to charge into the stands like some crazy psychopath is just beyond any explanation. It isn't like the guy was continuously firing stuff at Artest and he had to make him stop. He was in no danger and had not been harmed. He needed to get up, get security over there to deal with the fan, and get out of the situation.
The fan behavior that ensued was of course reprehensible, but once players are in the stands throwing haymakers, I don't think you can expect the fans to have any sense of decorum.
Having seen Artest in person in a Rockets uniform at media evets etc. I truly believe Ron has serious issues. That's why I can't fathom why no one on the Pacers staff led him off the court after the initial foul calls as the game was over etc. Add one more person failing to your list.
I remember a story Artest told once about seeing a guy killed with a table leg on a court in NYC, crazy stuff. On the other hand Artest has a huge charitable foundation that he started in Sac and has put alot of kids in college. Hell he majored in Math at St. Johns! The guy is some type of psycho-savant-Queensbridge Hood-prototype.
The game wasn't over after the initial foul call. It was declared over only after Artest went in ther stands.
You're right, I should have said 'basically over' with the big lead and all. Just get Artest in the locker room at that point is what the Pacers staff should have done.
I don't think there was any way they could have known what was going to happen. It was looking like a routine NBA shoving match at first, and seemed to be calming down when the fan hit him with the cup. As crazy as Artest can be, he'd never charged into the stands before then, so they couldn't have expected anything like that.
The one thing they could have done was tell him to get down from the scorer's table. That seemed needlessly provocative.
I worked the game for the home broadcast. I ran the hand held camera under the basket, pistons bench side. It was crazy. There was 3 broadcast that night (home show, visit, and espn) So there was at least 20 to 25 cameras in the building. So many different looks or angles of the fight. ESPN being there live did not help. They could get info on sports center right away and give their view to the world right then and there. There were police in the truck looking at footage. I brought my camera out to the truck after the broadcast was over and then was locked out of the palace for 30 min. The back hallway to the locker rooms was on lock down.
Its funny that we are talking about this today, last night I worked the pistons game and stuckey got fouled hard and a there was a little pushing and words were said. I took 2 steps on to the floor and stoped. There is a rule in the NBA now that if a fight breaks out you can not go on to the floor. (not just players, camera guys too) It made me think of the brawl On that night of the brawl there were at least 8 hand held cameras on the floor. and everyone went out on the floor. Because of the brawl, they made this rule. It was crazy! I was pushed by a pistons asst. coach and told to to get the hell out of here.(pistons bench) I also remember Mahorn trying to break it up. So many people to blame. It was crazy to be part of it, but it is sad too,my footage is part of history. I just wish it was for something good and not a negative moment in time.
Help me understand the "no camera" rule. You would think they would want as much footage as possible. For instance, in yesterday's Grantland article, one of the footnotes mentioned that it was only when watching supplementary footage that they were able to get a positive ID on the perp who threw the beer. Would they have been able to do that with the current no camera on the floor rule?
I think the basic idea is for us (camera guy) to not get hurt, or make the fight worse. You can shoot the fight from your spot on the floor. (the spot you shoot game action from)
If all the HH guys go on to the floor(that night 8) and each camera guy has a ute(person that wraps the cable) Thats another 8 people on the floor, not counting audio tech, and ref's, trainers. You are looking at 20 or more people on the floor that should not be there.
I have been told in camera meetings, when a fight breaks out camera 1 (the game cam)go wide to see both benches. The NBA wants this, to be able to see who left the bench.(so they can fine or suspend them)
The shots of the guy that threw the beer were caught by up cameras. The slash camera above the visit tunnel, and the camera on top of the basket. Did HH looks help, yes. but the NBA still thinks we can get the shots we need with out getting in the way.
So yes, the NBA wants as much footage that it can get. But they do not want us(camera guys) adding to the mess, and getting in the way or hurt because of the fight. And the fact that there was 3 broadcast that night helped with the extra footage.
It is in our nature(hand held guy) to get the best shot we can get. But if one guy goes out to get a shot, then everyone goes. and it is a mess. But if everyone stays in their spot, then you can shot what you need with out getting blocked. This is only a rule when there is a fight, or game is in play.
Looking back at it now. was I dumb for running out there to get the shot...yes. It was crazy and dangerous. But at the time I did not think it was going to get that out of hand.
So it is a good rule. It stoped me last night from running out there when stuckey got fouled.
I hope this answered your question.
Jackson: I knew we had to get out of this arena before all these guys in the nosebleed seats got down to our section. That's the felons, the guys that really don't care about losing anything. If they come down there, somebody's going to really get hurt.
I'm a felon apparently