To this day, the events that followed Ron Artest going into the stands at the Palace of Auburn Hills is the the most shocking thing I have ever watched in real time. The incident was raw, uncut, and happened in the blink of an eye. Ten years later, everyone knows the story. After a fight between Pistons and Pacers players was separated, Artest was doused with a flying beer from a fan. What followed was pure mayhem. November 19, 2004 set the Indiana organization back at least a decade, altered the careers of everyone involved, and changed professional sporting event security forever. The Malace resulted in 146 games worth of suspensions, over $10 million in lost salary, and ruined the public perception of Ron Artest, Stephen Jackson, and Jermaine O’Neal. But as time passed and wounds healed, more information about that night has come to light and the individuals involved seem more comfortable discussing what all went down. This Grantland feature by Jonathan Abrams is the most in-depth, revealing piece that has ever been written about that evening. It’s amazing to read about what led up to Artest charging into the stands, how poorly the situation was handled and just how many things had to go wrong for everything to occur. But it also offers fantastic, honest insight into the mindset of all the players. Abrams’ oral history paints the picture of a band of brothers who were focused on protecting each other and, when the situation escalated, just getting out of The Palace alive. I highly recommend taking some time to read this great piece.
“I think a lot of us made a lot of selfish decisions that day. I made a selfish decision to stop trying to break it up and to confront Lindsey Hunter and Richard Hamilton. That was my selfish decision. Ron made a selfish decision by going into the stands. We all made selfish decisions, but at the same time, we were protecting each other. It’s kind of hard to see if that’s right or wrong.” – Stephen Jackson