A new series is coming out on Netflix on Aug. 10 about the secrets behind infamous sports stories called Untold. And as part of the first volume, we get a peek into the truth behind the “Malice at the Palace,” easily the most famous brawl in NBA history. It includes drama, passion, anger, and altercations never seen before in any sports arena.
Of course, we will learn much more about what actually happened at the Malice at the Palace between the Indiana Pacers, Detroit Pistons, and their fans in Netflix’s Untold, Vol. 1, but some of us may need an explainer on the crazy night. After the notorious 2004 melee, the NBA was forever changed. Here’s what happened.
The Malice at the Palace is the name given to an infamous 2004 NBA brawl that was caused by a foul.
Anything in sports could always turn into a fight, but it rarely gets to the point of the Malice at the Palace, especially because when we watch the old footage, it just looks like a routine foul. That’s also what the commentators think, but one thing leads to another, and we get the biggest brawl in NBA history.
Basically, with only 45.9 seconds left of the game, the Pacers were 15 points ahead, but that’s not an impossible deficit for the Pistons to overcome. So when Piston Ben Wallace was fouled from behind by Pacers Ron Artest, Ben hit back by shoving Ron’s face. At this point, many of the players on the court jumped up to separate the two.
Ron separated himself and laid down on the scorer’s table to relax, a technique he had learned to control his emotions, while Ben and the other players continued to brawl, but it was calming down. Then, the unthinkable happened that threw the Palace into chaos.
The Malice at the Palace brawl escalated into the stands.
Once things were seemingly calming down, one now infamous fan catapulted the seemingly routine brawl into otherworldly chaos. From the stands, spectator John Green threw a plastic cup of Diet Coke at Ron. Immediately, Ron jumped into the stands and attacked the fan he thought responsible, Michael Ryan. Imagine being charged at by a professional basketball player? It does not sound fun.
This is when things really went wild. Other players jumped into the stands to both support Ron and to attack him for attacking fans. From there, more fans ran down to the court in what could only be described as an altercation between players and spectators, with spectators outnumbering the players, and players outfighting the spectators.
One fan, Charlie Haddad, rushed the court and pushed Ron — players retaliated in such a way that reporters and execs were worried they’d kill Charlie.
The fallout from Malice at the Palace is still evident today.
When security was finally able to escort players off the court into the locker room, fans were still throwing things at the Pacers players. After Malice at the Palace, nine spectators were injured, with two taken to the hospital.
In addition to that, nine players were suspended for a total of 146 games. Ron received the longest suspension in NBA history. Because of all the suspensions, the Pacers lost all their momentum after the 2004 season and were under .500 until 2011.
In addition to the demise of the Pacers, the Palace cracked down immediately on security. The echoes of this reverberated throughout all NBA stadiums. All stadiums were soon required to get better security personnel.
In addition, stadiums reduced the amount of alcohol that could be sold per person and cut off alcohol sales before the fourth quarter of games. Finally, a nine-point code of conduct for fans can still be seen in all NBA arenas today.
To get the untold story of the Malice at the Palace, catch Untold on Netflix starting on Aug. 10.