The "Malice at the Palace" at The Palace at Auburn Hills
The Palace at Auburn Hills was the site for three NBA Championships won by the Detroit Pistons and three WNBA Championships won by the Detriot Shock and one of the most infamous and controversial fights in NBA history. The two teams that were involved in this fight were the Detriot Pistons and Indiana Pacers. These two teams met in the Eastern Conference Finals the year before where Detroit ended up winning the NBA Championship. So with those prior meetings there was already bad blood between the team. This fight changed the course for the Indiana Pacers that season and the culture of the NBA till this day.
Ron Artest and Ben Wallace.
Fan who threw the cup of beer.
Aftermath of the fight
Interaction with fan and Ron Artest
Backstory and Context
On November 19, 2004, the Indiana Pacers and the Detroit Pistons were gonna play for the first time since the Eastern Conference Finals the year before. The Detroit Pistons took that series 4-2. Things got a little scrappy that series so there was already bad blood between the two teams. The game was highly anticipated because the Indiana Pacers were looking for revenge, while the Detroit Pistons were looking to prove it wasn’t a fluke and they really are the better team.
It was a good game throughout, but then madness ensued. With 45.9 seconds left in the game, the Pacers were leading the Pistons 97-82. When Piston’s center Ben Wallace went up for a layup, Ron Artest of the Pacers shoved him during the layup. Ben Wallace responded by pushing Ron Artest. The two teams got into a little scuffle. As the teams were settling down, Ron Artest was laying on the scorer’s table when a fan threw a cup full of beer at him. Ron Artest retaliated and ran up to the stands to fight the fan, his teammate Stephen Jackson followed. Ron Artest got up to the fan and started fighting him, unfortunately, Ron Artest was fighting the wrong fan. As this fight was happening, the stadium was going insane. After some time, Ron Artest made his way back to the floor when a fan approached him and Jermaine O’Neal. Artest and O’Neal punched the fan and hit him to the ground. The cops and security finally showed up and escorted both teams to the locker rooms. The remaining 45.9 seconds of the game were never played.
The fan who started the fight was identified as John Green. John Green was a die hard Pistons fan and was identified as the man who threw the cup. In an interview after the incident, John Green felt no remorse for what he started. More so, he felt no remorse for the innocent fan getting punched that the Pacers players thought was him. As a result of his actions, John Green got hefty consequences. John Green got suspended from all home Pistons’ games, a 30-day sentence in jail, and 2 year probation.
As for the players, multiple suspensions were handed out. Ron Artest, who was the main player in the fight, got suspended for 73 games and the remainder of the season, Stephen Jackson, who followed Artest up the stands, got a 30 game suspension, Jermaine O’Neal got suspended 25 games, Ben Wallace got suspended 6 games, and lastly all the players who left the bench got suspended for one game. There was controversy behind Jermaine O’Neal’s suspension because of the circumstances. The fan ran out on the court and charged O’Neal, so O’Neal punched the fan. A court judge ruled that Jermaine O’Neal was acting out of self defense. NBA Commissioner at the time David Stern didn’t pay any mind to that ruling and held up the suspension.
Many new rules were put in place for fans after this incident. There was a cap put on the amount of alcoholic beverages a fan could buy, a cap on the size of the cups alcohol is put in, and a nine point code of conduct for fans.
Here is where the controversy comes into play. The controversy revolves around how David Stern handled the event. Stern put no blame on the fans and all the blame on the players. He said the players were the ones who acted out of line and not the fans. He labeled the players “thugs” and said they were at fault. David Stern cared too much about the revenue the fans brought in to blame the incident on the fans.
Although the fight made major headlines, the Palace at Auburn Hills also had some more positive headlines. In April 2011, Pollstar ranked The Palace of Auburn Hills, home of the Detroit Pistons NBA team, as the second highest selling arena in United States of America and the fourth in the entire world. The Palace of Auburn Hills is and will always be not only a place in Michigans heart but will be in the NBAs heart. There is nothing like the Palace of Auburn Hills. In recent years, the attendance for the basketball games have been low but the state and the league still cherishes The Pistons and its home of The Palace of Auburn Hills.
- Pinak, A. the author: P., author:, A. the, Pinak, P., Patrick covered the Florida Gators during the forgettable Will Muschamp and Jim McElwain eras before spending two seasons writing for Major League Baseball. He's a baseball junkie who spends his days defending Derek Jeter and the Miami Marlins. He lives in, & Articles, V. M. (2021, August 16). "Malice at the palace" lives on as Basketball's ugliest brawl. FanBuzz. Retrieved October 19, 2021, from https://fanbuzz.com/nba/malice-at-the-palace/.
- Peters, J. W., & Robbins, L. (2004, December 9). 5 pacers and 5 fans are charged in the fight. The New York Times. Retrieved October 19, 2021, from https://www.nytimes.com/2004/12/09/sports/basketball/5-pacers-and-5-fans-are-charged-in-fight.html.
- Sippell, B. M. (2021, August 11). Malice at the palace: Who is John Green, the man who threw the Cup? MovieMaker Magazine. Retrieved October 19, 2021, from https://www.moviemaker.com/untold-malice-at-the-palace-netflix-john-green-cup-thrower/.
- FOX 2 Detroit. (2020, July 11). The palace of auburn hills is officially no more after the remains of the building were imploded. FOX 2 Detroit. Retrieved October 19, 2021, from https://www.fox2detroit.com/news/the-palace-of-auburn-hills-is-officially-no-more-after-the-remains-of-the-building-were-imploded.
- Pacers / Pistons Brawl (2004) original - youtube. (n.d.). Retrieved October 19, 2021, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UdyqIh4nJ3Y.