Did Fans Deserve to Get Punched During the ”Malice at the Palace”?

Netflix's 'Untold: Malice and the Palace' documentary delves into the infamous 2004 brawl. But which team started the notorious fight? Details.

Mustafa Gatollari - Author

Aug. 11 2021, Published 9:25 a.m. ET

Malice at the Palace
Source: YouTube

If you were a fan of The Last Dance then there's a good chance you're trying to lap up as much basketball docu-content you can get your hands on. And Netflix is betting that you're going to want to check out its latest sports series, Untold, which features an episode dedicated to one of the NBA's biggest controversies: "The Malice at the Palace."

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The documentary Untold: Malice at the Palace will provide in-depth interviews and a detailed analysis of the unfortunate events that unfolded on the night of November 19, 2004, between the Indiana Pacers and Detroit Pistons in Auburn Hills, Michigan.

It will also seek to answer the question in all sports fans' minds concerning the brawl: Who started it?

Source: Getty | Instagram
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If you aren't familiar with the "Malice at the Palace," you should definitely watch the video to get a true grasp of how out-of-hand the fight got. What began as an altercation between players after a hard foul turn into a massive onslaught of food, beer, and chairs being thrown from the audience onto the floor. Key NBA players began trading blows with fans as they jumped into the stands to confront them. Viewer discretion is advised.

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What was the "Malice at the Palace" game score?

What makes the fight all the more bizarre is that the Pacers were up 97 to 82 playing an away game against Detroit, and there were only 45.9 seconds remaining in the game. A victory for Indiana was essentially a foregone conclusion, which made Ron Artest's (IND) hard foul against Ben Wallace (DET) at the time all the more perplexing.

Many fans audibly protested Artest's over-exertion of force. Then, after recovering from the foul, Wallace approached Artest and shoved him hard in the chest. Players and coaches alike from both teams' benches rose from their seats to join the fray that was fomenting between the two players.

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After Artest was separated from Wallace, he laid down on the announcer's table and it seemed that cooler heads were beginning to prevail.

That's when a cup lobbed from the stands struck Artest.

The small forward lunged off the table and toward the fans with his teammate Stephen Jackson trailing behind. Artest struck a fan and began sustaining blows from audience members while dishing them out himself.

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Soon Jackson was involved in frays of his own, and fellow Pacers player Fred Jones was struck by David Wallace, Ben Wallace's brother.

When Artest and other Pacers players were wrenched from the fray and returned to the locker room, fans rained food and beverages on them, and another threw a chair in what seemed like an attempt to hurt them.

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IndyStar reports that in one scene of the documentary, after returning to the locker room, Artest asked Jermaine O'Neal, who was on the bench during the melee, if they were going to get "in trouble."

"Are we going to get in trouble?" Artest asked.

Jermaine O'Neal, who was sitting on the bench just staring, was shocked at what he heard.

"I said, 'What you mean?'"

O'Neal couldn't believe that Artest was that oblivious/careless about what had just happened, and he was fuming. "I just lost it," O'Neal said.

"He charged Ron," Jackson said. "And we ended up breaking it up."

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So who started the "Malice at the Palace"?

Although both Metta World Peace (previously Ron Artest) and O'Neal maintain that the full footage of the brawl would prove they were acting in self-defense, fans are split on whether or not Metta and the Pacers were to blame.

In the clip, Artest can be seen initiating a hard foul, even though the Pacers were set to win a game on the road.

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His decision to jump into the stands and involve fans, however, is what many believe is responsible for the Malice at the Palace escalating into the "most disgraceful" moment in NBA history.

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However, there are many who also say that after watching the full documentary, hearing other sides of the story, and seeing additional footage showing what that fan did to Artest, their opinions reversed.

Watch Untold: Malice at the Palace on Netflix now.

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