Everyone remembers where they were when they saw one of the most infamous moments in NBA history: the Indiana Pacers and Detroit Pistons’ 2004 brawl, also known as the “Malice at the Palace.” The incident even resulted in players going into the stands and getting into fights with fans, as it ultimately became one of the ugliest moments the league had — and still has — ever seen.
Former NBA player Stephen Jackson was a player who took part in the brawl that night. He recently revealed what he hates most about it.
Stephen Jackson discussed the ‘Malice at the Palace’
The Pacers had high expectations for the 2004-05 season. They started strong out the gates, going 7-2 through their first nine games, which followed a 61-21 campaign and a trip to the conference finals in 2003-04.
However, in that ninth game in 2004-05, they played their Eastern Conference Central Division rival, the reigning NBA champion Detroit Pistons, on the road.
Late in the fourth quarter of the game that the Pacers won, Ron Artest — now known as Metta Sandiford-Artest — and Pistons big man Ben Wallace got into a shoving match. Their scuffle eventually resulted in both teams getting into a massive brawl.
“Rip Hamilton’s my class of ‘96 brother; we’ve been tight,” Jackson recently said on the Charges with Rex Chapman podcast. Chapman — the former NBA player — recently launched Charges through the content company Portal A.
Jackson continued: “Rasheed [Wallace] is my brother; I looked up to Derrick Coleman. But in that moment, the tension was so high, we all was getting into it. We all was arguing and pushing back and forth.”
During all the chaos, Artest and Jackson made their way into the stands to confront fans after Artest had beer thrown on him. But Jackson noted that Rasheed Wallace, the Pistons big man, actually went up into the stands to get him.
“He came up there to make sure I was straight to get me out the stands because there was too much going on, and it just went bad fast, man,” Jackson said on the June 29 episode.
The former Pacer eventually added that the “love is still there” between everyone. The players were just competitive and wanted to be great.
Stephen Jackson revealed what he hates most about the ‘Malice at the Palace’
According to USA Today, nine total players received a suspension. Jackson received a 30-game suspension, but the league punished Artest the most. He received a 73-game ban and missed the rest of the season.
“Ron missed out on a championship; that was our championship year,” Jackson said on Charges with Rex Chapman. “They suspended him the whole season, Rex, because somebody threw a beer at him. And in today’s society, you throw a beer on somebody, that’s assault.”
What Jackson hates most, though, is that the incident ruined Reggie Miller’s final season. Miller is a Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer. He earned five All-Star selections with the Pacers and is third in league history in 3-point field goals made.
“That was his year to win a championship,” Jackson said. “That was Reggie’s last year, and Reggie felt like, he was confident in us to get us that championship, but that one moment ruined our whole year.”
The Indiana Pacers fell short of expectations
Losing Artest was a massive blow for the Pacers. He averaged 18.3 points and 5.3 rebounds the season prior, and was averaging 24.6 points and 6.4 rebounds through seven games in 2004-05.
Without Artest, the Pacers eventually went 44-38 overall that year. They reached Eastern Conference semifinals, where they, of course, faced the Pistons. However, Detroit won the series in six games before later playing in the NBA finals again, but losing to the San Antonio Spurs in seven games.
The players who were involved in the “Malice at the Palace” are well past the incident. But Pacers fans still have to wonder, “what if it had never happened?” Would the Pacers have reached the finals instead of the Pistons? Would they have beaten the Spurs? We will never know.
The incident, though, potentially left Miller without any titles on his resume.
Stats courtesy of Basketball Reference