There is a very long and comprehensive account at Grantland on the (Link:) Malice at the Palace. (emphasis: very, very, very long. Don't go there if you use tl;dr a lot.) Because I am neither a Piston fan nor a Pacers fan, I have always seen this incident from a distance. However, it is a great account of perhaps the most terrifying incident ever in US professional sports. And since many of you are Detroit Pistons fans, you may find it interesting.
The account itself is fascinating, but almost in a Three and Out kind of way: you are reading about a disaster that is sickening, and you just can't stop. For me, several things stood out.
- There is an implicit contract or compact between fans and athletes. This incident broke the barriers in the unspoken contract. That agreement, when broken, can lead to terrifying consequences. I guess I think of that because while I am a Michigan fan, I am no more than a fan, and don't pretend to be. (i.e., I will never storm the floor.) Following Michigan sports from mgoblog is so very far from actually being on the field of play.
- The size and strength of many athletes is beyond the understanding of most people. I am 6'4" and close to 300 pounds, but am small and weak compared to almost any pro athlete. I remember when I lived next to Butch Wade, Roy Tarpley, and Richard Rellford. They were huge, strong, and just in a different dimension.
- The mentality of a mob that has lost its mind and control is very frightening. The closest I remember Michigan experiencing that was at the 1993 Wisconsin football game in Madison, where 6 Wisconsin fans were crushed to death as they went to rush the field. (Revisiting the Camp Randall 1993 Stampede.)
- It is amazing how such a turn of events can have such lasting consequences. The Pacers probably had the best team in the NBA, but were destroyed, and still haven't come back fully.