Pacers-Pistons brawl

Pacers-Pistons brawl

Infobox basketball game
game_name = Indiana Pacers at Detroit Pistons

visitor = Indiana
home = Detroit
visitor_total = 97
home_total = 82
visitor_per1 = 34
visitor_per2 = 25
visitor_per3 = 21
visitor_per4 = 17
home_per1 = 27
home_per2 = 16
home_per3 = 23
home_per4 = 16
date = November 19, 2004
arena = The Palace of Auburn Hills
city = Auburn Hills, Michigan
attendance = 22,076
The Pacers-Pistons brawl (also known as The Malice at the Palace and The Basketbrawl) was an altercation that occurred in a National Basketball Association game between the Detroit Pistons and Indiana Pacers on November 19, 2004 at The Palace of Auburn Hills in Auburn Hills, Michigan. With less than a minute before the game was officially over, the fighting began on the court and, after a plastic cup with beer was thrown at then-Pacer player Ron Artest, extended into the stands.

The repercussions led to nine players being suspended without pay for a total of 146 games, which led to $10 million in salary being lost by the players. Five players were also charged with assault, and all five were eventually sentenced to a year on probation and community service. Five fans were also legally charged, and John Green, who threw the cup at Artest, received a lifetime ban from attending Pistons games. The fight also led the NBA to mandate increased security presence between players and fans, and to ban the sale of alcohol after the third quarter.

Before the brawl

The meeting between the two teams was a rematch of the previous year's heated Eastern Conference Finals, which the Detroit Pistons won in six games en route to their first NBA title since the days of the "Bad Boy". [ [ 2004 NBA Playoff Summary] , basketball-reference. Retrieved on September 29, 2008] Because of this, the game received much hype from the media and fans. Having won two games in a row already, the Indiana Pacers came into the game with a 6–2 record, while Detroit Pistons, the defending champion, began their season 4–3.

The game was, like many previous meetings between the two teams, dominated by defense. The Pacers got off to a quick start, opening up a 20-point lead with seven minutes to go before halftime. The Pistons managed to cut into the lead, trailing by 16 points by halftime. The Pistons opened the third quarter with a 9–2 run, but the Pacers ended it with a buzzer-beating 3-pointer and a layup from Jamaal Tinsley heading into the fourth quarter. Richard Hamilton and Lindsey Hunter started the quarter with consecutive three points field goals, as the Pistons cut into the lead again. But Stephen Jackson's back to back field goals pushed the lead to 93–79 with 3:52 remaining, putting the Pistons away. [ [ Big Win Marred by Ugly Brawl] , Retrieved on September 27, 2008] Despite the lopsided score near the end of the game, most key players on both team remained in the game.cite news | url= | title= Indiana vs. Detroit - Recap - November 19, 2004 | date = November 19, 2004 | | accessdate=2008-04-26 ]

The Pacers were led by the 24 point effort of Ron Artest, who scored 17 in the first quarter. Jermaine O'Neal scored a double-double with 20 points and 13 rebounds. Tinsley had 13 points, eight assists and a career-high eight steals. Hamilton led the Pistons with 20 points. Rasheed Wallace and Ben Wallace both recorded a double-double. Despite outrebounded by the Pistons, the Pacers managed to shoot .414. [ [ Indiana Pacers 97, Detroit Pistons 82] , basketball-reference. Retrieved on September 27, 2008]


The brawl began with 45.9 seconds remaining in the game, when Indiana led the game 97–82. When Piston center/forward Ben Wallace was fouled by Pacer forward Ron Artest, Wallace responded by shoving Artest in the throat, which led to a physical confrontation between several players from both teams.cite news | url= | title= Artest, Jackson charge Palace stands | date = November 21, 2004 | | accessdate=2008-04-26 ] During the argument, Artest laid down on the scorer's table while putting on a headset pretending to give a radio interview. He also taunted Wallace which led Wallace to throw an armband at him. A spectator, John Green, then threw a cup with beer at Artest while he was lying on the table, which hit Artest in the chest.

Artest responded by running into the stands and shoving the man he mistakenly believed was responsible, which triggered a violent response from nearby spectators, and involved Stephen Jackson who had also run into the stands. Another melee started when Artest was confronted on the court by two fans, Alvin "A.J." Shackleford and Charlie Haddad. Artest punched Shackleford, and Jermaine O'Neal intervened by slide-punching Haddad in the jaw.

The remaining seconds of the game were called off and the Pacers were awarded the 97–82 win. More debris was thrown at Pacer players and other personnel as they were escorted from the court. No players from either team spoke to the media before leaving the arena. Nine spectators were injured, and two were taken to the hospital.cite web|url=|title=Artest, O'Neal, Jackson, Wallace on hook|date=November 20, 2004|publisher=ESPN|accessdate=2008-05-03]



On November 20, 2004, the NBA suspended Artest, Jackson, O'Neal, and Wallace indefinitely until the lengths of their suspensions were officially decided, saying that their actions were "shocking, repulsive and inexcusable". [cite news|url=|title=Statement from NBA Commissioner David Stern Concerning the Altercation During the Detroit Pistons and Indiana Pacers Game Last Night at The Palace of Auburn Hills|date=November 20, 2004||accessdate=2008-05-17] The following day, the NBA announced that nine players would be suspended for a total of what eventually became 146 games—137 games for Pacers players and 9 games for Pistons players.cite web|url=|title=Suspensions without pay, won't be staggered|date=November 21, 2004|publisher=ESPN|accessdate=2008-05-03] David Harrison was also seen fighting with fans, but the NBA stated that he wouldn't be suspended because "the incident occurred as the players were attempting to leave the floor."cite web|url=|title=Union director suggests 35-game maximum|date=November 28, 2004|publisher=ESPN|accessdate=2008-05-03] Artest was given the longest suspension, as he was suspended for the remainder of the 2004–05 NBA season, a suspension which eventually totaled 86 games (73 regular season games plus 13 subsequent playoff games), the longest suspension ever levied for a fight during a NBA game. The players suspended also lost nearly $10 million in salary due to the suspensions, and Artest alone lost almost $5 million.cite news|url=|title=Palace brawl lives in infamy 1 year later|date=November 26, 2005||accessdate=2008-05-16]

In the week following the announcement of the suspensions, the players' union appealed the suspensions of Artest, Jackson, and O'Neal, saying they thought that David Stern had "exceeded his authority". A federal arbitrator upheld the full length of all suspensions, except that of O'Neal's, which was reduced to 15 games. [cite web|url=|title=N.B.A. Seeks to Overturn Arbitrator's Shorter Ban for O'Neal|last=Robbins|first=Liz|date=December 23, 2004|publisher=New York Times|accessdate=2008-05-03] However, the NBA appealed the decision of the arbitrator to reduce O'Neal's suspension in federal court, and on December 24, a judge issued a temporary injunction allowing O'Neal to play, until a full hearing was held on the NBA's appeal. [cite web|url=|title=Final decision expected Dec. 30|date=December 24, 2004|publisher=ESPN|accessdate=2008-05-03]

O'Neal played in two more games before the NBA's case was brought before the U.S. District Court in Brooklyn, New York on December 30. The NBA argued that under the terms of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, Commissioner David Stern had absolute authority to pass out suspensions and hear appeals for all on-court incidents. But the judge ruled that because O'Neal's behavior was an off-court incident, arbitration was allowed under the CBA, and thus the arbitrator was within his rights to reduce the suspension. [cite news|url=|title=Judge: Arbitrator had right to shorten penalty|date=December 30, 2004||accessdate=2008-05-16] Despite O'Neal's successful appeal, no further appeals were made to reduce Artest's and Jackson's suspensions.

Legal charges

On November 30, eleven days after the brawl, John Green and Charlie Haddad were banned indefinitely from attending any events at venues owned by Palace Sports and Entertainment (the owner of the Pistons), and had their season tickets revoked. [cite news|url=|title=Fans Suspected In Basketbrawl Banned Indefinitely|date=November 30, 2004||accessdate=2008-05-16] Green had several previous criminal convictions, including counterfeiting, carrying a concealed weapon, felony assault and three drunken driving convictions, [cite news|url=|title=Report: Fan In White Hat Has Criminal History|date=November 22, 2004||accessdate=2008-05-16] and he was on court-ordered probation from a DUI conviction at the time of the brawl. [cite news|url=|title=Piston Fan's Criminal Past|date=November 23, 2004||accessdate=2008-05-16]

On December 8, 2004 five Indiana players and five fans (John Green, William Paulson, John Ackerman, Bryant Jackson and David Wallace, the brother of Ben Wallace) were formally charged for assault and battery; Jermaine O'Neal and spectator John Green, who county prosecutor David Gorcyca said "single-handedly incited" the brawl by throwing a cup of liquid at Artest, [cite web|url=|title=5 Pacers and 5 Fans Are Charged in Fight|last=Peters|first=Jeremy|coauthors=Robbins, Liz|date=December 8, 2004|publisher=New York Times|accessdate=2008-05-03] were charged with two counts, and Artest, David Harrison, Stephen Jackson, and Anthony Johnson were charged with one count each. Three fans, including David Wallace, received one count of the same charge, two fans (Charlie Haddad and A.J. Shackleford) who entered the court during the fight were charged for trespassing, and Bryant Jackson, who had prior criminal convictions, was charged with a felony assault for throwing a chair. [cite web|url=|title=Five Pacers, seven Pistons fans charged in brawl|date=December 8, 2004|publisher=Associated Press|accessdate=2008-05-03] All of the fans involved were banned from attending Pistons games. [cite news|url=|title=Five Pacers, seven fans charged in Palace brawl|last=Dixon|first=Oscar|date=December 8, 2004||accessdate=2008-05-26]

On March 29, 2005, Bryant Jackson pleaded no contest to a felony assault charge for throwing the chair, and on May 3, 2005, he was sentenced to two years probation and ordered to pay $6,000 in restitution. [cite news|url=|title=Pistons fan accused of throwing chair during Palace brawl jailed|date=February 2, 2007|publisher=USA Today|accessdate=2008-05-16] David Wallace was also convicted, and sentenced to one year of probation and community service for punching Pacer guard Fred Jones from behind.

All five players who were legally charged pleaded no contest to the charges. On September 23, 2005, after pleading no contest to their assault charges, Artest, O'Neal and Jackson were all sentenced to one year on probation, 60 hours of community service, and a $250 fine. [cite news|url=|title=Artest, O'Neal, Jackson receive year of probation|last=Fowler|first=Bree|date=September 23, 2005||accessdate=2008-05-17] A week later, Harrison received the same sentence, [cite news|url=|title=Harrison put on probation for role in Palace brawl|date=September 30, 2005||accessdate=2008-05-17] and on October 7, 2005, Johnson, the last player to be charged, also received the same sentence. [cite news|url=|title=Pacers' Johnson gets probation, community service for role in NBA brawl|date=October 7, 2005||accessdate=2008-05-17]

On March 27, 2006 a jury found Green guilty on one count of assault and battery for punching Artest in the stands, but acquitted him of an assault charge for throwing the cup. On May 1, 2006, Green was sentenced, and received 30 days in jail and two years' probation. [cite news|url=|title=Green also sentenced to two years' probation|date=May 1, 2007|publisher=ESPN|accessdate=2008-05-16] On November 7, 2006, the Pistons issued a letter to Green informing him that he was banned for life from attending any Pistons home games. [cite news|url=|title=Fan who ignited brawl forever banned from Pistons' home games|date=November 7, 2006|publisher=USA Today|accessdate=2008-05-16]


Public reaction

Several NBA players and coaches said the brawl was the worst fight they had ever seen, [cite web|url=|title=Palace Brawl Was 'Ugly Scene,' Says Pistons President|date=November 19, 2004||accessdate=2008-05-03] and 83% of fans who voted in a SportsNation poll on said that the fight was the "ugliest incident of fan-player violence" they had seen.cite web|url=|title=Vote: Pacers-Pistons brawl|date=November 20, 2004|publisher=ESPN|accessdate=2008-05-03] Initially, Pistons fans were blamed for the incident, [cite news|url=|title=Fans as much to blame as players|last=Celizic|first=Mike|date=November 22, 2004||accessdate=2008-05-16] as John Saunders referred to them as "a bunch of punks", [cite news | url= | title= ESPN Commentator Bashes Detroit Fans | | accessdate=2008-04-25 ] and Tim Legler said that "the fans crossed the line." [cite news | last = Legler | first = Tim | url= | title= Always trouble when fans involved | | date = November 23, 2004 |accessdate=2008-04-29 ] Radio host Rush Limbaugh called Detroit "New Fallujah", after the Iraqi city, [cite news | url= | title= Time for NBA to Stop Pretending | date = December 8, 2004 | | accessdate=2008-04-25 ] and 46% of the voters in the SportsNation poll said that the fans were to blame for incident. However, others said that Artest and the other players involved were to blame. [cite news | last = Ratto | first = Ray | url= | title= Plenty of blame to go around | | date = November 19, 2004 | accessdate=2008-04-29 ] [cite news | last = Celizic | first = Mike | url= | title= Artest, fellow Pacers deserve jail time | publisher=NBC Sports | date = December 9, 2004 | accessdate=2008-04-29 ]

Events after the brawl

The Pacers and Pistons played for the first time after the brawl on December 25 at the Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. The Pistons won 98-93 without any incidents, although neither Artest nor Jackson played, due to their suspensions. [cite news|url=|title=Indiana's O'Neal shows rust in return|date=December 25, 2004|publisher=Associated Press|accessdate=2008-05-16] 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 700 mL (24 ounces) 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. [cite news|url=|title=Fans subject to conduct code|date=February 17, 2005|publisher=ESPN|accessdate=2008-05-16] They also later ordered that each team put at least three security guards between the players and the fans.

On March 25, 2005, the Pacers played at The Palace for the first time since the brawl. The game was delayed 90 minutes after a series of bomb threats were aimed at the Pacers locker room, but the game eventually started after no explosives were found.cite news|url=|title=Detroit's 12-game home win streak snapped|date=March 25, 2005||accessdate=2008-05-16] Two of the key figures in the original incident missed the game, as Artest was still suspended and O'Neal had an injured shoulder. In the game, the Pacers stopped the Pistons' twelve game winning streak with a 94-81 win.

In the playoffs, Detroit entered as the second seed of the Eastern Conference, and Indiana as the sixth. After the Pistons defeated the Philadelphia 76ers in five games, [cite news|url=|title=Detroit Shows Philly the Door|date=May 3, 2005||accessdate=2008-05-16] and the Pacers upset the third seed Boston Celtics in seven games, [cite news|url=|title=Big Second Half Leads Pacers to Second Round|date=May 7, 2005||accessdate=2008-05-16] the two teams met in the second round. Although the Pacers went ahead two games to one, [cite news|url=|title=Setting the Pace|date=May 13, 2005||accessdate=2008-05-17] the Pistons clinched the series in six games with three straight wins. [cite news|url=|title=Pistons Retire Miller’s Pacers;Move On to Face Heat|date=May 19, 2005||accessdate=2008-05-17] After eliminating Indiana, Detroit advanced to the NBA Finals, where they lost to the San Antonio Spurs in seven games. [cite news|url=|title=Spurs Dethrone Pistons To Take Third NBA Title|date=June 23, 2005||accessdate=2008-05-17]

After serving his required suspension of the rest of the 2004-05 season, Ron Artest returned to the Pacers at the beginning of the 2005-06 season. But after playing only sixteen games, he demanded to be traded, and the Pacers put him on the injured list.cite news|url=|title=Peeved Pacers will try to move disgruntled star|date=December 13, 2005|publisher=Associated Press|accessdate=2008-05-17] The then-general manager of the Pacers Donnie Walsh said that Artest's demands were "the last straw", and after more than a month of inactivity, Indiana traded Artest to the Sacramento Kings for Peja Stojaković.cite news|url=|title=Pacers: Artest-for-Peja deal finally done|date=January 25, 2006||accessdate=2008-05-17] Artest finally made his return to Detroit on January 20, 2007. During the Kings' 91-74 loss to the Pistons, Artest was booed constantly, but there were no unusual incidents. [cite news|url=|title=Pistons bury slumping Kings, losers in eight of last nine|date=January 20, 2007||accessdate=2008-05-17]

As of the 2007-08 season, of the nine players that were suspended after the brawl, only Billups is still with his original team. [cite web|url=|title=Chauncey Billups Info Page||accessdate=2008-05-17] [cite web|url=|title=Jermaine O'Neal Info Page||accessdate=2008-05-17] Four players – Artest, Jackson, O'Neal and Johnson – have been traded to other teams, [cite news|url=|title=Harrington, Jackson at heart of Pacers-Warriors deal|date=January 18, 2007|publisher=Associated Press|accessdate=2008-05-17] [cite news|url=|title=Indiana acquires Armstrong, trades Johnson in deal with Mavericks |author=Associated Press |date=July 24, 2006 |publisher=USA Today|accessdate=2008-05-17] three players – Miller, Campbell, and Coleman – have retired, [cite news|url=|title=Reggie Says "I Just Believe It's Time"|last=Brunner|first=Conrad|date=February 11, 2005||accessdate=2008-05-17] [cite web|url=|title=Elden Campbell Bio||accessdate=2008-05-17] [cite web|url=|title=Derrick Coleman Bio||accessdate=2008-05-17] and one player – Wallace – has signed with another team. [cite news|url=|title=Ben Wallace makes it official, signs with Bulls|last=Ford|first=Chad|date=July 13, 2006||accessdate=2008-05-17] The Pistons have advanced to four straight Eastern Conference finals since the brawl, and six straight overall, making them the first team since the Los Angeles Lakers in the 1980s to advance to six straight conference finals. [cite news|url=|title=Pistons pull away late to advance to 6th straight conference finals|date=May 13, 2008||accessdate=2008-05-17] However, after losing to the Pistons in the 2005 playoffs, the Pacers have not finished above .500, and they have finished out of the playoffs for two straight years. [cite web|url=|title=Indiana Pacers||accessdate=2008-05-17]

See also

*National Basketball Association criticisms and controversies
*List of violent spectator incidents in sports
*Knicks-Nuggets brawl
*Sparks-Shock brawl


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