Malice in the Palace
The brawl between the Pacers and Pistons, known colloquially as the Malice in the Palace, occurred on November 19th, 2004 at The Palace of Auburn Hills in Michigan. The game was televised nationally by ESPN, as well as the local affiliates for both the Pacers and Pistons. With 45 seconds remaining in the game, Ben Wallace was fouled hard by Ron Artest during a lay-up attempt. Wallace later went on record saying that Ron Artest had warned him previously that he was going to hit him hard. Wallace proceeded to shove Artest with both hands, which officially kicked off the mayhem. While the teams began arguing on the court, Ron Artest walked over to the scorer’s table and laid down on top of it. He popped on a headset, pretending to do an interview with radio broadcaster, Mark Boyle. This nonchalant move angered Wallace, who then threw his armband at Artest. Then a spectator, John Green, threw a cup of Diet Coke at Artest. Side note, Green later claimed that he didn’t mean to hit anybody in particular, but “forgot about the laws of physics”. Artest responded by trampling Mark Boyle on his way to storm the stands. Mark Boyle received five fractured vertebrae and a serious laceration on his head. Artest ran into the stands and grabbed the wrong man. Stephen Jackson followed Artest into the stands and began punching fans. At the same time, Ben Wallace’s brother punched Artest. The teams had stopped fighting, but now the fans were squaring off against the Pacers. Two such fans, A.J. Shackleford and Charlie Haddad confronted Artest on the court. Artest punched Shackleford and knocked over Haddad in the process. Jermaine O’Neal ran over and punched Haddad in the jaw with terrifying momentum behind him. The players finally returned to their locker rooms, where the police arrived to make arrests. They decided instead to escort the Pacers’ bus out of town first.
Assault and battery charges were later given to O’Neal, Artest, and several other players. Below is a chart of the NBA suspensions that followed.
Suspension by the NBA
Remainder of the season
(86 games; 73 regular season and 13 playoff)
(originally 25 games, reduced on appeal)
* indicate players who faced legal consequences; they all received similar sentences:
One year probation
(60 hours for Artest, Jackson, and O'Neal; 100 hours for Johnson; quantity unpublicized for Harrison)
Anger management therapy
Three months later, on February 17, 2005, the NBA imposed new security guidelines for all NBA arenas. The new policies included a size limit of 24 US fl oz (710 ml) for alcohol purchases and a hard cap of two alcoholic beverage purchases for any individual person, as well as a ban of alcohol sales after the end of the third quarter. They also later ordered that each team put at least three security guards between the players and the fans.