Metta Sandiford-Artest and Stephen Jackson reflect on ‘Malice at the Palace’: Fans ‘started it’

Detroit Free Press

Scott Gleeson

Former NBA players Metta Sandiford-Artest and Stephen Jackson looked back on the “Malice at the Palace” incident from 2004 on Monday, providing a behind-the-scenes perspective from the brawl between the Indiana Pacers and Detroit Pistons during an episode of Showtime’s “All the Smoke.”

The bench-clearing brawl at The Palace in Auburn Hills, Michigan, saw Sandiford-Artest, formerly known as Ron Artest and Metta World Peace, suspended for 73 regular-season games and Jackson suspended for 30 games. All in all, a combined nine Pacers and Pistons players were suspended a total of 146 games

Sandiford-Artest went into the stands after an alcoholic beverage was thrown at his head while he was cooling down on the scorer’s table following an altercation with Pistons All-Star center Ben Wallace. Sandiford-Artest immediately responded by charging at the fan. 

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“I didn’t go up there to hit him,” Sandiford-Artest said on the podcast. “I went up there to shake him like, ‘yo’ like a real good shake. … Like, why’d you throw a beer at my face, bro?”

After that initial altercation between Sandiford-Artest and the fan, a massive brawl broke out that saw spectators go onto the court. 

Jackson chimed in on jumping in to fight when the fans came onto the court: “I couldn’t let that (expletive) ride.”

Sandiford-Artest responded, “Yo, listen, I never wanted you to do that.” 

Sandiford-Artest and Jackson said it was the first time recounting the specifics of the incident together. 

The NBA in 2005 implemented a rule to limit the sale of alcohol in games. Jackson said of the fans’ part in the brawl: “They started it.”

Jackson then added that the referees were at least partially to blame: “(The brawl) (expletive) up our whole season. We didn’t deserve that. At the end of the day, we were at work. A beer came out of the stands. Referees did a horrible job. They should’ve done a better good job escorting off the court. Instead they let it linger so long that the fans got into it.”

Both players then revisited a funny moment in the locker room after what is known as the biggest brawl in NBA history.  

“(Sandiford-Artest) looks at me and goes, ‘You think we gonna be in trouble?’ I was like, we might not have a job after this, son.'”

“I looked at you and was like, you right,” Sandiford-Artest replied. 

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