The biggest NBA brawl in history which cost players a combined total of $11.2 million

Sports disputes can result in fights that become so well-known that they receive their own moniker. 'Malice at the Palace' is notable here.

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The biggest NBA brawl in history which cost players a combined total of $11.2 million

When the Indiana Pacers and Detroit Pistons played at the Palace of Auburn Hills on November 19, 2004, an NBA riot broke out. It was so renowned that it resulted in fines, suspensions, and even an entire documentary.

At first, nothing unusual was happening in the game; with 45.9 seconds remaining, the Pacers were leading 97-82. Ben Wallace was then given a hard foul by Ron Artest, which incited Wallace to shove Artest.

Players and coaches erupted onto the court as a result of the argument, but when Artest took a seat at the side of the court, everything appeared to settle down once more.

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Up until a supporter threw a cup at him, that is.

From his lying position, Artest leaped to his feet and lunged into the stands, followed closely by teammate Stephen Jackson. Chaos ensued as a full-fledged battle broke out, involving numerous players and spectators.

More punches were thrown as a result of supporters continuing to incite Artest, Jackson, and the other Pacers as they started to head for the locker room by hurling trash and even a chair.

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The participants realised very immediately that their activities would get them into trouble. Jackson remembered in the years following the altercation, as reported by The Grantland: “After we calmed down, [Artest] looked at me like, ‘Jack, you think we going to get in trouble?’

“Jamaal Tinsley fell out laughing. I said, ‘Are you serious, bro? Trouble? Ron, we’ll be lucky if we have a freaking job.'”

The team were indeed hit with some harsh penalties as a result of the brawl, with NBA commissioner David Stern describing his ‘shock, revulsion and fear’.

What punishment did Artest receive for his actions?

For his part, Artest was suspended for 73 games and lost $5,288,545 in pay, while Jackson was punished for 30 games and lost $1,865,854.

After being punished for 25 games and losing $4,510,975, Jermaine O’Neal’s losses were eventually lowered to 15 games and $2,706,585.

Anthony Johnson received five games and $120,000, Ben Wallace missed six games and $439,024, and Reggie Miller lost sixty thousand dollars.

Also Read: Top 5 Greatest Teams In NBA History

Elden Campbell, Chauncey Billups, and Derrick Coleman of the Pistons each received one-game suspension for sitting out the rest of the season.

Because of their violent outbursts, many of the fighters were also charged with crimes.

After the fight, the NBA changed drastically. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver told IndyStar in 2014, “We always had league security deployed at every (arena), but there were many lessons learned from this incident, so we enhanced the security at every (game) and that included enhancing some of the background of some of the security people as well. …There was a major upgrade after this incident, across the board.”

In 2021, Netflix released a documentary on the fight titled Untold Vol 1: Malice at the Palace.

By Shyam
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Shyam Sharma who joined SPORTS BIG NEWS in 2021. Focuses on soccer – chiefly the Premier League, LaLiga, UEFA Champions League, Liga MX and MLS. On occasion, also covers American sports, general news and entertainment. Fascinated by the language of sport – particularly the under-appreciated art of translating cliché-speak.