Yesterday was the anniversary of one NBA brawl between the Indiana Pacers and the Detroit Pistons. It was nearly five years ago that the infamous “Malice in the Palace” suspended almost the whole Pacers team, Ron Artest for the season and Ben Wallace.
There had been NBA brawls in the past but never to the magnitude of this one which included fans, players, and coaches. Instead of trying to capture the entirety of it, I might as well tell you what I was doing at the time for this infamous fight.
I was still in College at the time and the major reason why that I still watching the game was due to my labtop crashing a couple days before. I was waiting for game two of the double-header between the Memphis Grizzlies-Sacramento Kings to start on ESPN and listening to the game on headphones.
(As I look back while writing this article, so much has changed in the NBA in those five years, Seattle had the best record in the NBA at the time, Earl Boykins dropped 32 points for the Nuggets, and Kobe Bryant had a triple-double. Wait, that still hasn’t changed.)
Then, all of sudden I hear Mike Breen yell “Wallace right at Artest” and then some of the most mind-boggling happenings for the next twenty-five minutes. Pistons fans fighting with Artest, Jermaine O’Neal punching fans, Current Cavaliers coach Mike Brown getting doused with beer, ESPN’s Bill Walton calling it a disgrace, former Pistons coach Larry Brown trying to get touch with the fans and then slamming the microphone down, Fred Jones getting punched in the back by a fan, Reggie Miller almost getting pepper-sprayed, and John Saunders flipping out in the studio calling the Pistons fans “punks.”
It almost felt like a bad movie, but it was not, it was actually happening. I was entralled and couldn’t turn my eyes away from it. I watch all the post SportsCenter coverage and the phrase of the moment “Thugification of the NBA” became the battlecry of non-NBA fans.
Think about this as well, this pre-HD television and Twitter, think of the amazement that 180 characters could have presented to us back then. However, YouTube was full force and you could find the fight video more easily than ever, every angle/music video/and post Saunders freak-out. Now, you can barely find any of clips of it now on YouTube.
Alot has happened since that night, the NBA installed a dress code, Ron Artest has become “Ron Artest, Tragic Hero“, and Ben Wallace is back with the Pistons. I feeling that if David Stern could change one moment in his NBA term as comissioner, it would be this one. However, I still think this is one of the most memorable moments for better or worse.
(Video Courtesy of FanDome.com)