MALICE AT THE PALACE

Howie Mooney
FiredUp Network Sports Writer

@HowieMooney

Saturday, August 28, 2021


MALICE AT THE PALACE

The Palace of Auburn Hills is no longer there.  It was torn down in the summer of 2020.  But when it stood, it was the home to a multitude of concerts and a number of different teams and different sports.  For almost thirty years, from 1988 until 2017, it was the home to an arena football team, an indoor soccer team, the Detroit Shock of the WNBA, the Detroit Vipers of the International Hockey League and perhaps most famously, the Detroit Pistons of the National Basketball Association.

Prior to 1978, the Pistons had played their home games in The Olympia, the Cobo Arena and Calihan Hall or The Memorial Building.  In 1978, the Joe Louis Arena opened and the Detroit Red Wings of the National Hockey League became the prime tenant.  The Pistons had the opportunity to play there as well, but their owner, Bill Davidson, figured he could get more people to watch his team play games at the Pontiac Silverdome.  Sightlines were terrible there for basketball, but hey, he could get a lot more people into the venue to see his team play and make more money.

By late 1985, Davidson decided to form a group to build a new arena in Auburn Hills.  The Palace opened in 1988, and was built for the relatively low price of just $90 million.  Davidson had 180 luxury boxes put into the arena, a number which seemed to be high at the time, but which the Pistons had never failed to sell out.  It also became the prototype of the modern arena building boom that soon followed after the construction of The Palace was completed.

The Palace has seen numerous memorable games played there over the years.  The Pistons won championships in 1989 and 1990 with the Palace as their home arena.  Same for the team in 2004.  Michael Jackson headlined three of the biggest concerts ever at the Palace in 1988.  Gordie Howe took his last ever professional shift at the age of 69 at the Palace as a member of the Detroit Vipers in 1997.  In 2003, the Detroit Shock won the WNBA championship after being the worst team in the league the previous season. 

But perhaps the most infamous game ever played at The Palace (and possibly the most infamous game in NBA history) was a regular season game played there on November 19, 2004.  It was a game in which the visitors were the Indiana Pacers.  A lot of the pre-game talk had to do with the fact that the two teams had played each other in the previous year’s Eastern Conference Finals.  The Pistons had won that series in six games on their way to winning the NBA title that season.  Detroit beat the Lakers in five games to win the final series.  It was their first championship since the ‘Bad Boys’ won in 1990.

The third round playoff series in the spring of 2004 between the Pistons and the Pacers had been a tough defensive set of games.  There wasn’t one game in which either team could score 90 points.  After four games, the series was ties 2-2.  But Detroit won Game 5 in Indianapolis by a score of 83-65.  Richard Hamilton had 33 points for the visitors.  Ron Artest led the Pacers with just 13 points.  He also had 11 rebounds.  The Pistons finished the Pacers off with a 69-65 win back at The Palace to move on to the finals.  Hamilton again led the Pistons with 21 points.  Ben Wallace had 16 boards.  Jermaine O’Neal was the top scorer for Indiana with 20 points.  That game may be remembered though as the one in which Artest delivered the flagrant foul to the face of Hamilton when the score was tied 59-59 late in the fourth quarter.

The 2004-05 NBA season was still young on this third Friday in November.  The Pacers came into the game with a 6-2 record while the Pistons were sitting at 4-3.  The game was televised nationally on ESPN and there was a palpable buzz in the building by the time the game tipped off.  The Pacers had felt like they had unfinished business to attend to.  They felt like they had the better team in the 2003-04 season and their team had not played up to their potential in the playoffs that previous season.

Indiana never forgot the sting of losing that series.  They always figured that they had the better team and they should have won it.  They had posted the best record in the league and felt that they should have gone farther in the playoffs.  In 2004-05, they wanted to prove that they were the team to beat. 

“We didn’t even know how good we were.  We had won 61 games (in 2003-04) off pure talent”, Jermaine O’Neal told Jonathan Abrams for a 2012 piece in Grantland on the game and the fight.  “In this league, it’s about maturity, experience and talent, and we felt we had all that going into that year.  We really did.”

The Pacers’ Ron Artest was 24 years old when the ’04-05 season started.  He was still young but was developing into a talented scorer who could play with an edge.  He had a quirky personality, yes, but he was showing that he could contribute to a winning team.  He had been turning into the shooter that the Pacers had projected him to be when they acquired him in 2002.

This game, like so many of the previous games between these two teams, was predicated on and dominated by defense.  Artest had scored 17 points in the first quarter.  Five minutes into the second quarter, the Pacers were ahead by 20 points.  By halftime, they were leading by 16.  The score at that point was 59-43 for Indiana.  Detroit opened the second half with a 9-2 run and outscored the Pacers 23-21 in the third quarter.  But Indiana finished off the quarter with a layup and a buzzer beating three pointer from Jamaal Tinsley.  It’s 80-66 for the visitors at this point.

Richard Hamilton and Lindsay Hunter started the fourth quarter with back-to-back three-point shots for Detroit, but as the quarter continued on, Indiana maintained their lead.  The Pistons pulled to within five at one point.  Eventually, Stephen Jackson hit two straight field goals to give the Pacers a 93-79 lead with 3:52 left in the game.  By this point, it appeared that the game was pretty much over. 

Chippiness had ensued as the game got further along and as the result was becoming more obvious.  With 6:43 left, Richard Hamilton hit Jamaal Tinsley with a hard elbow to the back after a defensive rebound.  The Pacers’ bench erupted.  With 1:25 left, the Pistons’ Ben Wallace knocked Artest into the basket support structure while contesting his layup and no foul was called.  Then, with less than 50 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter, and the Pacers leading 97-82, Wallace was heading to the hoop to drop a layup when he was fouled by Artest.  Artest had hit Wallace across the back of his head on the shot attempt.  Wallace went at Artest and shoved him in the face with both hands.  At that moment, players from both teams jumped in to try to keep the two men from getting at each other. 

Mike Brown was a Pacers’ assistant coach and he thought he could see this coming.  “You could see it start to get a little testy between Ron and Ben.  There was a foul at the end and then another foul.  Then a borderline foul and problems beyond the foul.  The game was out of hand.  I was hoping the officials were going to kick both players out.”

Stephen Jackson had the opportunity to contest Wallace as he was going to the hoop on the layup but he let him go.  “I was guarding Ben.  I let him score.  I was trying to let the clock run out.  And Ron just came from out of nowhere and just clobbered him.  I’m like ‘What the hell is going on?’  I had no clue that was about to happen.  When that happened, everything just happened so fast, man.”

At this point in the confrontation, no one was really thinking this was going to be bad.  Detroit coach Larry Brown wasn’t terribly concerned because basketball fights rarely last more than a minute anyway.  Artest laid down on the scorers’ table to relax.  Pacers’ president Donnie Walsh later told reporters that Artest was following advice he had been given by a counselor on how to calm down while in situations that might be getting out of control. 

 Allen Einstein/NBAE/Getty Images

About a minute and a half after Wallace had shoved Artest, there were a lot of players and coaches on the court from both teams, at midcourt specifically, trying to calm Wallace down.   Wallace was still upset.  He had recently lost a brother and apparently, Artest had told Wallace that he was going to foul him.  He saw Artest lying on the scorers’ table and flicked one of his wristbands at him.  Artest jumped up but was restrained by coaches and a couple of teammates.  Jim Gray, who was a sideline reporter for ESPN that night, according to the 2012 Grantland piece, said that he also told Artest not to go anywhere because he wanted to interview him post-game.  Gray says that Artest then agreed not to move from that spot.  He laid back down. 

Reggie Miller had been sitting out of this game because of a broken finger.  He was trying to comfort Artest and calm him down at this point.  As he was in the process of talking to his teammate, he saw, out of the corner of his eye, a red plastic Solo cup full of something coming through the air toward Artest.  He talked about that moment in an interview with Dan Patrick back in 2015.

“I only saw the whites of someone’s eyes once.  That’s when...I’m patting Ron down when he’s laying on the table.  This is after the scuffle with Ben Wallace.  The referees are...they’re huddling.  I’m kinda like ‘Hey, calm down big fella’, like this....out of the corner of my eye, I see the red cup travelling in slow motion towards Ron.  As soon as it hits Ron, it was like The Incredible Hulk.  He turned green.  And I look at him, the eyes went white, and I was like ‘Nooooooooooo’, and he just jumped off the table...and the rest was history.  It was crazy.  That whole scene was crazy.”

Patrick then asked Miller to tell him something from that night that he didn’t already know.  Miller told this story.

“So, once Ron went into the stands, cause I was on I.R. (injured reserve), I had broken my finger, so I jumped in after him.  I believe at the time, Stephen Jackson was in the stands in the same area.  (Pacers’ assistant coach) Chuck Person and I went to go get Ron.  That was our first priority, it was to get Ron back out of the stands and on to the court.  We get Ron back on to the court, and I remember this vividly.  We’re at half court and we’re telling him to calm down.  And this is all in a matter of 35 or 45 seconds. 
 Ron Artest. Photo by Allen Einstein/NBAE/Getty Images

“A police officer runs up to us and has his mace out and is getting ready to spray Ron in his face.  Everything is going crazy in the stands.  Fans now are starting to run on to the court.  And we have Ron.  I mean Ron is secure now.  And he’s running up to Ron and he’s getting ready to spray him in his face.  And I put my arm out to stop him and say, like, ‘What are you doing?  No!  Go get the fans off the court.  We have him.’  He’s like ‘No. No. I’m gonna spray him.’  I’m like ‘No!  We have him.’  And then that’s when Chuck and I escort Ron to the locker room with all the litter and the beer and the popcorn and all that.  But I just remember that officer and that mace in his hand running up to us and getting ready to...probably spray all of us but more so, Ron.  That’s the one thing I remember vividly from that, other than the whites of Ron’s eyes.”

It all happened incredibly quickly!  Pacers’ players were going into the stands to get at fans who had thrown things at them.  Fans were running down on to the court to get at or antagonize Pacers’ players who had, in their eyes, wronged their Pistons’ players.  And in some cases it was getting violent.  It was a scene from an anarchic hellscape.  While Artest was briefly in the stands, trying to get the person who had thrown the beer at him, he grabbed a man, Michael Ryan, whom he had thought was the offender.  Pacers’ radio broadcaster Mark Boyle tried to stop Artest from going into the crowd.  He was pushed down and trampled in the melee.   Boyle ended up suffering five fractured vertebrae and a cut to his head.

As Miller had told Patrick, Jackson had followed Artest into the stands.  Another fan had thrown a drink into Artest’s face at that moment and Jackson punched that fan in the face.  John Green, the fan who had thrown the original beer at Artest when he had been laying on the scorers’ table, punched Artest twice in the head from behind.  Ben Wallace’s brother, David, did the same to another Pacers’ player Fred Jones.  While all this was happening, fans were tossing drinks, food, chairs and other objects.

While Miller and Person were getting Artest out of the stands, two more fans, identified as Alvin Shackleford and Charles Haddad confronted Artest.  Artest punched Shackleford and Haddad then pushed Artest, but both Haddad and Shackleford ended up on the floor.  While Haddad was on the floor, Pacers’ guard, Anthony Johnson struck him in the back of the head.  When Haddad stood up, Jermaine O’Neal punched him in the jaw but as he did so, O’Neal was slipping on some liquid that was on the floor and falling backwards.  People thought that O’Neal’s punch was going to kill Haddad.  If he had not slipped on the beer or water or whatever it was, he might have done some serious damage to the man.

NBA Commissioner David Stern admitted later that he was watching the game on TV and he muttered “Holy sh**!”  O’Neal later said that “As bad as it looked on TV, it was at least twenty times worse in person.”  Chuck Person compared the situation to a desperate scene from ancient history.  He said it was like “being trapped in a gladiator-type scene where the fans are lions and we were trying to escape with our lives.  That’s how it felt.  There was no exit.  You had to fight your way out.”  Pacers’ coach Rick Carlisle said “We were fighting for our lives out there.”

Fans were everywhere and there was very little security there to try to stop them.  Nor was there much they could do.  There had been only three police officers in the building during the game.  This was uncharted territory.

The ESPN commentators were talking as all this was happening on, and off, the court.  Mike Breen was calling the game for the network and he said he believed that Wallace would be ejected.  Bill Walton was doing analysis for the game and he felt that Stephen Jackson was a guy who should have been ejected for his role in shouting at Detroit players and making the whole situation worse.  Walton was looking around and said on the air, “This is the lowest point for me in thirty years in the NBA.”  To say it was chaotic would be understating it. 

As police were coming into the building to attempt to quell the situation, referees called the game with 45.9 seconds left in regulation.  The Pacers had won 97-82.  There are reports that Pistons’ coach Larry Brown got on a microphone on the public address system and tried to get fans to leave the floor and leave the building but to no avail.  In frustration, Brown threw the microphone to the floor.  As officials and security tried to escort the Pacers off the court, everyone, the players and their escorts were pelted with food and drinks and anything else the fans could throw.  A chair almost hit Jermaine O’Neal in the head.

“I don’t remember how I got from the stands and back on the floor.  But everyone was throwing stuff.  I literally felt like there were 22 people fighting 20,000 people”, Mike Brown told Abrams.  “I know that wasn’t the case but that was the scariest moment I’ve ever been a part of in my life.  Next thing I know, we’re back in the locker room and my clothes are soaked, ripped.  Anybody who says they’re not scared in my opinion is lying.”

Stern, while watching the fracas developing on his television screen at home called assistant commissioner Russ Granik.  “Are you watching our [expletive] game?”  Granik told Stern that he wasn’t.  Stern then told Granik “Well turn our [expletive] game on, you’re not gonna believe it.”

If you’ve ever been in that building, you’ll remember how small that whole area was where the visiting players would exit from the floor to their locker room.  You’ll also remember the close proximity the fans had to those visiting players as they would leave the court.  It was all started and finished within a matter of a few minutes.  Getting back to their room was a sick adventure for the Pacers. 

After the Pacers had been able to get off the floor and into the safety of their locker room, the players and coaches were still heated.  Some were not understanding what others had been trying to do out there in trying to quell the insanity.  The Pacers’ players had been acting in defence of their teammate who had gone into the stands to get at a fan who had thrown a drink at him.  Some coaches and players were trying to stop them from going up into the seats.  It made for some heated discussion and sharp words in the room afterwards.

According to Stephen Jackson, he said, in the 2012 Grantland article, “Rick (coach Carlisle) is like ‘Everybody calm down.  Everybody calm down.’  Everybody was still kind of in awe.  I remember Jermaine just jumped up.  He said ‘Next time we fighting, don’t you MF’s grab us!’  And Rick jumped up and got just as big as Jermaine and said ‘We were just trying to help!’  And so it ended up looking like the team and the coaches were about to fight.”

 Jermaine O’Neal.  Photo by Sam Riche - IndyStar

Artest was almost like a child after the melee.  While in the room with his teammates, he naively asked Jackson “Jack, you think we going to get into trouble?”  According to Jackson, Jamaal Tinsley broke out laughing hysterically at that.  Jackson was taken aback by Artest’s question.  “Are you serious, bro?  Trouble?  Ron, we’ll be lucky if we have a freaking job!”  That question did everything to tell Jackson that Artest wasn’t necessarily in a cogent state of mind at that point.

When the game was done and everyone had had a chance to digest what had happened at The Palace that night, fines and suspensions were levied by NBA Commissioner David Stern.  Some were predictable, some were not.  Many were almost egregiously harsh, considering that much of what happened would never have occurred had it not been for the fan, John Green, throwing the beer at Artest that ignited the situation.

Artest was suspended for the remainder of the season.  That meant he was gone for a total of 86 games – 73 in the regular season and 13 in the playoffs.  He lost $4,995,000 in salary due to the suspension.

Stephen Jackson was suspended for 30 games and lost $1,700,000. 

Jermaine O’Neal had initially been suspended for 25 games but he appealed and a federal arbitrator reduced it to 15 games.  He ended up forfeiting $4,111,000 in salary. 

Anthony Johnson, of the Pacers, was gone for five games and lost $122,222.  Reggie Miller was suspended for one game and lost $61,111. 

Ben Wallace was suspended for six games and lost $400,000 in salary.  The Pistons’ Chauncey Billups was gone for one game and lost $60,611.  Derrick Coleman got a one game suspension and lost $50,000.  Elden Campbell was tossed for one game and lost $48,888.

Artest, Jackson, O’Neal, Johnson and David Harrison, all of them players from the Pacers, were charged and faced legal consequences over their actions that night.  O’Neal was charged with two counts of assault and battery.  Each of his teammates received one charge.  Each of the players were fined $250 and received one year‘s probation.  Artest, Jackson, O’Neal and Harrison received sentences of 60 hours of community service while Johnson received 100 hours of community service.

Each of the Pacers players were ordered to undergo anger management therapy.

The fans that participated in the melee weren’t exempt from the long arm of the law either.  After police obtained video of what had occurred that night, they began making arrests.  The Oakland County prosecutor, David Gorcyca, identified John Green as the man who had thrown the beer at Artest.  On November 30, eleven days after the game, the Pistons and Palace Sports and Entertainment banned Green and Charles Haddad from ever attending any events at the arena again.  They revoked their season tickets also. 

Green had several prior convictions as well, including counterfeiting, carrying a concealed weapon, felony assault and three drunk driving convictions.  At the time of the game, he had been on a court-ordered probation for a conviction of driving under the influence of alcohol.  It was Green’s actions that night that ignited the powder keg.

The only person in the whole situation who did any jail time was John Green.  He was convicted of misdemeanor assault and battery and served 30 days in jail and was also given two years’ probation. 

The NBA appealed the arbitrator’s ruling regarding Jermaine O’Neal that reduced his suspension.  That case went before the U.S. District court in Brooklyn on December 30, 2004.  The NBA argued that under the terms of the collective bargaining agreement, Stern had the absolute authority to rule on suspensions and to hear appeals for all incidents that occurred on the basketball court. 

But in this case, the judge ruled that what happened in O’Neal’s situation occurred off the court, and therefore, the arbitrator was within his jurisdiction to reduce the suspension.  Once that ruling was brought down, O’Neal figured that would be the end of it.  In February, he was named an All-Star and was voted to start the game. 

The 2005 All-Star Game was played in Denver and when O’Neal arrived, he saw no pictures of himself anywhere.  Traditionally, the starters’ pictures are plastered everywhere but his was nowhere.  He looked in a program and other promotional materials.  Neither his name nor his likeness were anywhere to be found.  He was an All-Star, but the league was not going to acknowledge his existence there.

O’Neal discussed that on the All The Smoke podcast with Matt Barnes and Stephen Jackson.  “You’d think that once we went to court and went through the process, they’d say ‘We good’.  But they didn’t.  I come back, I get reinstated after fifteen games...I get back, I get reinstated and I still make the All-Star team.  I’m voted in as a starter.  Me and my wife get there, and there wasn’t a picture of me to be found.  That was the first time I understood ...when I’m telling you ‘no picture nowhere’...I’m looking through the books, no picture.  That was the moment when I really understood what that was.”

The immediate reaction to what had happened that night at The Palace seemed to be in favour of the Pacers' players.  On ESPN's post-game show NBA Shootaround, host John Saunders called some of the Pistons’ fans "a bunch of punks". Tim Legler said the fans "crossed the line".  And Stephen A. Smith said "They (the fans) should be ashamed of themselves and some of them should be arrested as far as I'm concerned."  But that support for the players may have been short-lived.

Four days later, ESPN Vice President Mark Shapiro walked all that back when he put out a statement that read, “I wish the studio hadn’t laid the blame solely on the backs of the fans Friday night.”

Indianapolis Star columnist Mark Monteith encapsulated the goings-on at the Palace that Friday night this way. "There were roughly a half-dozen elements that caused that brawl to happen. If Artest doesn't make that hard foul on Wallace, it doesn't happen. If Ben Wallace doesn't react the way he did, it doesn't happen.  If the referees control the situation, it doesn’t happen.  If Artest doesn’t go lay down on the scorer’s table, it doesn’t happen.  If the fan doesn’t throw his beverage, it doesn’t happen.  There was a continuation there, a succession of things.  You take away any one of them and the whole thing doesn’t happen.”

But Dr. Stephen P. Gonzalez of the Association for Applied Sport Psychology feels that it’s important to look at the incident through the eyes of the player as a person.  “He still had a draft beer thrown on him at ‘The Malice at the Palace’”, Gonzalez said in a 2021 interview with foxsports.com.  “At that point, your safety is compromised.  He went into, basically, defensive mode.  People call him all these names and say that he’s this terrible person when really, what would you do if somebody disrespected you by throwing a beer on you, and you weren’t sure if you were going to be safe?”

“I’m not justifying the outcome of everything, but at the same time, let’s empathize and put ourselves in the situation of the athlete.  What would you do there, when you’ve been disrespected like that?  It’s dehumanizing, and it rocks you to your core.  It’s a shame to see people treat you like that.”

“We talk about the arrogance of athletes.  They won’t sign this or they’re not accessible.  Well, if you want athletes to be accessible and if you want athletes to embrace fans more, let’s make sure we’re showing respect, and we’re making sure it’s a safe place to be.”

That is one thing that The Palace was not, necessarily, in 2004.  Safe.  Especially given the intensity with which these two teams played against each other whenever they had faced each other.  There were only three police officers in the arena when this incident broke out.  Security was minimal.  There was nothing preventing fans from intruding upon or impeding the players or the game action.  That fans were able to throw objects at players and then tramp down and get on to the court is something that would never happen in a game today. 

As a result of what happened at The Palace on that night in 2004, the NBA introduced strict measures on the amounts of security that teams required at every game.  The league also imposed limits on selling times, amounts and portion sizes for alcohol sales at games. 

As time moved on from that night, one theme seemed to stand out.  Each person who was directly involved in the brawl and the aftermath seemed to have a ‘pre-Malice’ life and a ‘post-Malice’ life.  To begin with, let’s look at the Indiana Pacers as a team.  Larry Bird had done a fine job assembling a talented squad of players.  They felt that they were a more talented team in the 2003-04 playoffs than the Pistons, but because of other reasons, they could not defeat them.  Going into the 2004-05 season, they felt they were a championship contender, but the suspensions took the life out of them.

Bird had become the Pacers’ president in 2003 and he put together a team that was ready to play with any and all of the big boys of the NBA by that 2004-05 year.  That brawl and the suspensions that followed it destroyed all of that hope.  “Well, you build teams hopefully to get an opportunity to play in the Finals, and they were definitely good enough”, Bird told Marc Spears of The Undefeated.  “Even though we went to the finals in 2000, I think that (2004-05) team was better.  They didn’t get to show us how good they were.”

 

Before that game, Ron Artest had been playing at a tremendous clip.  His numbers had been impressive.  His general manager at the time, Donnie Walsh, loved him, or at least, he loved Artest’s potential.  In 2002, after they acquired him from Chicago, Walsh had given Artest a six-year extension worth $42 million.  Walsh also told Artest that he would never trade him.  Artest returned that respect to Walsh saying that he was like a father-figure to him.

‘Pre-Malice’, Artest was a 20-point per game man who was the Defensive Player Of The Year the previous season.  Even the Indianapolis Star’s Monteith agreed on that.  “Ron had been playing well”, he told Abrams in that 2012 interview.   “If you look at his stats for the first seven or so games that season, he was playing great:  averaging over 20 points a game and shooting the best three-point percentage of his career.”

But the suspensions killed whatever momentum that the team had been building.  The Pacers made the playoffs that year with a record of 44-38 but bowed out in the second round to the Pistons.  Jermaine O’Neal remains disappointed to this day that his team missed out on reaching its potential.  “I honestly believe that we had an opportunity to not only win one championship, but to win multiple championships with the way that team was built.”

The only difference in the Pacers lineup going into the 2005-06 season was that Reggie Miller had retired.  Everyone else had remained and the team looked like it was poised to make a run.  In the pre-season, Larry Bird and Artest appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated.  All looked calm in peaceful in Indianapolis.  Apparently, it wasn’t.

In December of 2005, Artest demanded to be traded out of town.   None of his teammates could understand why he would do such a thing and many were angry that he would make that demand, especially after they had paid such a heavy price the season before in trying to defend him at The Palace and the subsequent aftermath.

Pacers’ GM Donnie Walsh told Abrams in 2012 “A lot of the players stood up for Ronnie (during the brawl in Detroit).  Jermaine got suspended.  Jack got suspended.  A lot of guys got punished.  When he stood up and said he wanted to be traded, that really put the team in a whole different situation.  They felt like he wanted to walk out of there after he had really hurt the team.”

Stephen Jackson was particularly upset.  “Yeah, I felt betrayed when Ron asked to be traded.  I had lost $3 million.  It kind of felt like, ‘OK, we put our careers and stuff on the line for you and you want to leave us?’  We had a great team that year.  We were actually the best team in the league.  So It kind of hurt.”  Artest was put on the inactive list and eventually traded in January of 2006 to Sacramento for Peja Stojakovic.  After the brawl in Detroit, Artest played a total of sixteen games for Indiana.  That 2005-06 Pacers team finished the season with a record of 41-41.

After leaving Indy, Artest played three seasons in the California capital.  He then played a season in Houston and four in Los Angeles with the Lakers.  He played part of a season with the Knicks and then spent a year playing in Europe before coming back to the NBA to play his last two seasons with the Lakers again.  In 2010, he won an NBA title as part of the Los Angeles Lakers.  His NBA career ended after the 2016-17 season.  He was 37.

In 2011, Artest changed his name to Metta World Peace.  According to the Basketball Reference website, he changed his name to The Panda’s Friend in 2014.  In 2018, he married Maya Sandiford and changed his name again, this time to Metta Sandiford-Artest. 

Jermaine O’Neal sees that point in time – the brawl, the aftermath and then Artest wanting out of Indy -- as one that changed the team’s destiny.  He told Abrams, “After the brawl, we had a lot of issues off the court, situations, and it just didn’t feel right no more.  It didn’t feel right.  It got to a point where you almost wanted a change.  Donnie Walsh, I’m sure he felt the same way.  That’s why he went to New York (in 2008).  In the end, it wasn’t about basketball no more.  It didn’t feel good.  It didn’t feel good playing the games.  It just felt like a city that was divided.  You had people here on this side that’s really behind us, and another side that really wasn’t.”

He continued, “I felt like if I didn’t leave – and it was one of the most difficult decisions that I had to make – then that organization would never be free of it.  I’ve lived in that environment (in Indianapolis) where you can walk into a restaurant and there’s so much love there that you get ready to pay your bill and your bill is paid already.  Or anywhere you go, there’s just so much love.....it’s one of those hardworking small towns where people go to work every day and then they come home and turn on their TVs and watch those games because those games are a part of their lives.....I didn’t want to leave because I always wanted to finish my career there.”

In July of 2008, O’Neal was traded to Toronto as part of a multi-player deal.  He played 41 games with the Raptors before he was traded to Miami.  He then played a season and a half with the Heat.  In the summer of 2010, he signed as a free agent with the Boston Celtics.  He played parts of two seasons there before signing a free agent deal with Phoenix.  After a season with the Suns, the six-time All-Star finished his 18-year career playing a season with the Golden State Warriors.

Artest was almost like a child after the melee.  While in the room with his teammates, he naively asked Jackson “Jack, you think we going to get into trouble?”  According to Jackson, Jamaal Tinsley broke out laughing hysterically at that.  Jackson was taken aback by Artest’s question.  “Are you serious, bro?  Trouble?  Ron, we’ll be lucky if we have a freaking job!”  That question did everything to tell Jackson that Artest wasn’t necessarily in a cogent state of mind at that point.

When the game was done and everyone had had a chance to digest what had happened at The Palace that night, fines and suspensions were levied by NBA Commissioner David Stern.  Some were predictable, some were not.  Many were almost egregiously harsh, considering that much of what happened would never have occurred had it not been for the fan, John Green, throwing the beer at Artest that ignited the situation.

Artest was suspended for the remainder of the season.  That meant he was gone for a total of 86 games – 73 in the regular season and 13 in the playoffs.  He lost $4,995,000 in salary due to the suspension.

Stephen Jackson was suspended for 30 games and lost $1,700,000. 

Jermaine O’Neal had initially been suspended for 25 games but he appealed and a federal arbitrator reduced it to 15 games.  He ended up forfeiting $4,111,000 in salary. 

Anthony Johnson, of the Pacers, was gone for five games and lost $122,222.  Reggie Miller was suspended for one game and lost $61,111. 

Ben Wallace was suspended for six games and lost $400,000 in salary.  The Pistons’ Chauncey Billups was gone for one game and lost $60,611.  Derrick Coleman got a one game suspension and lost $50,000.  Elden Campbell was tossed for one game and lost $48,888.

Artest, Jackson, O’Neal, Johnson and David Harrison, all of them players from the Pacers, were charged and faced legal consequences over their actions that night.  O’Neal was charged with two counts of assault and battery.  Each of his teammates received one charge.  Each of the players were fined $250 and received one year‘s probation.  Artest, Jackson, O’Neal and Harrison received sentences of 60 hours of community service while Johnson received 100 hours of community service.

Each of the Pacers players were ordered to undergo anger management therapy.

The fans that participated in the melee weren’t exempt from the long arm of the law either.  After police obtained video of what had occurred that night, they began making arrests.  The Oakland County prosecutor, David Gorcyca, identified John Green as the man who had thrown the beer at Artest.  On November 30, eleven days after the game, the Pistons and Palace Sports and Entertainment banned Green and Charles Haddad from ever attending any events at the arena again.  They revoked their season tickets also. 

Green had several prior convictions as well, including counterfeiting, carrying a concealed weapon, felony assault and three drunk driving convictions.  At the time of the game, he had been on a court-ordered probation for a conviction of driving under the influence of alcohol.  It was Green’s actions that night that ignited the powder keg.

The only person in the whole situation who did any jail time was John Green.  He was convicted of misdemeanor assault and battery and served 30 days in jail and was also given two years’ probation. 

The NBA appealed the arbitrator’s ruling regarding Jermaine O’Neal that reduced his suspension.  That case went before the U.S. District court in Brooklyn on December 30, 2004.  The NBA argued that under the terms of the collective bargaining agreement, Stern had the absolute authority to rule on suspensions and to hear appeals for all incidents that occurred on the basketball court. 

But in this case, the judge ruled that what happened in O’Neal’s situation occurred off the court, and therefore, the arbitrator was within his jurisdiction to reduce the suspension.  Once that ruling was brought down, O’Neal figured that would be the end of it.  In February, he was named an All-Star and was voted to start the game. 

The 2005 All-Star Game was played in Denver and when O’Neal arrived, he saw no pictures of himself anywhere.  Traditionally, the starters’ pictures are plastered everywhere but his was nowhere.  He looked in a program and other promotional materials.  Neither his name nor his likeness were anywhere to be found.  He was an All-Star, but the league was not going to acknowledge his existence there.

O’Neal discussed that on the All The Smoke podcast with Matt Barnes and Stephen Jackson.  “You’d think that once we went to court and went through the process, they’d say ‘We good’.  But they didn’t.  I come back, I get reinstated after fifteen games...I get back, I get reinstated and I still make the All-Star team.  I’m voted in as a starter.  Me and my wife get there, and there wasn’t a picture of me to be found.  That was the first time I understood ...when I’m telling you ‘no picture nowhere’...I’m looking through the books, no picture.  That was the moment when I really understood what that was.”

The immediate reaction to what had happened that night at The Palace seemed to be in favour of the Pacers' players.  On ESPN's post-game show NBA Shootaround, host John Saunders called some of the Pistons’ fans "a bunch of punks". Tim Legler said the fans "crossed the line".  And Stephen A. Smith said "They (the fans) should be ashamed of themselves and some of them should be arrested as far as I'm concerned."  But that support for the players may have been short-lived.

Four days later, ESPN Vice President Mark Shapiro walked all that back when he put out a statement that read, “I wish the studio hadn’t laid the blame solely on the backs of the fans Friday night.”

Indianapolis Star columnist Mark Monteith encapsulated the goings-on at the Palace that Friday night this way. "There were roughly a half-dozen elements that caused that brawl to happen. If Artest doesn't make that hard foul on Wallace, it doesn't happen. If Ben Wallace doesn't react the way he did, it doesn't happen.  If the referees control the situation, it doesn’t happen.  If Artest doesn’t go lay down on the scorer’s table, it doesn’t happen.  If the fan doesn’t throw his beverage, it doesn’t happen.  There was a continuation there, a succession of things.  You take away any one of them and the whole thing doesn’t happen.”

But Dr. Stephen P. Gonzalez of the Association for Applied Sport Psychology feels that it’s important to look at the incident through the eyes of the player as a person.  “He still had a draft beer thrown on him at ‘The Malice at the Palace’”, Gonzalez said in a 2021 interview with foxsports.com.  “At that point, your safety is compromised.  He went into, basically, defensive mode.  People call him all these names and say that he’s this terrible person when really, what would you do if somebody disrespected you by throwing a beer on you, and you weren’t sure if you were going to be safe?”

“I’m not justifying the outcome of everything, but at the same time, let’s empathize and put ourselves in the situation of the athlete.  What would you do there, when you’ve been disrespected like that?  It’s dehumanizing, and it rocks you to your core.  It’s a shame to see people treat you like that.”

“We talk about the arrogance of athletes.  They won’t sign this or they’re not accessible.  Well, if you want athletes to be accessible and if you want athletes to embrace fans more, let’s make sure we’re showing respect, and we’re making sure it’s a safe place to be.”

That is one thing that The Palace was not, necessarily, in 2004.  Safe.  Especially given the intensity with which these two teams played against each other whenever they had faced each other.  There were only three police officers in the arena when this incident broke out.  Security was minimal.  There was nothing preventing fans from intruding upon or impeding the players or the game action.  That fans were able to throw objects at players and then tramp down and get on to the court is something that would never happen in a game today. 

As a result of what happened at The Palace on that night in 2004, the NBA introduced strict measures on the amounts of security that teams required at every game.  The league also imposed limits on selling times, amounts and portion sizes for alcohol sales at games. 

As time moved on from that night, one theme seemed to stand out.  Each person who was directly involved in the brawl and the aftermath seemed to have a ‘pre-Malice’ life and a ‘post-Malice’ life.  To begin with, let’s look at the Indiana Pacers as a team.  Larry Bird had done a fine job assembling a talented squad of players.  They felt that they were a more talented team in the 2003-04 playoffs than the Pistons, but because of other reasons, they could not defeat them.  Going into the 2004-05 season, they felt they were a championship contender, but the suspensions took the life out of them.

Bird had become the Pacers’ president in 2003 and he put together a team that was ready to play with any and all of the big boys of the NBA by that 2004-05 year.  That brawl and the suspensions that followed it destroyed all of that hope.  “Well, you build teams hopefully to get an opportunity to play in the Finals, and they were definitely good enough”, Bird told Marc Spears of The Undefeated.  “Even though we went to the finals in 2000, I think that (2004-05) team was better.  They didn’t get to show us how good they were.”

 

Before that game, Ron Artest had been playing at a tremendous clip.  His numbers had been impressive.  His general manager at the time, Donnie Walsh, loved him, or at least, he loved Artest’s potential.  In 2002, after they acquired him from Chicago, Walsh had given Artest a six-year extension worth $42 million.  Walsh also told Artest that he would never trade him.  Artest returned that respect to Walsh saying that he was like a father-figure to him.

‘Pre-Malice’, Artest was a 20-point per game man who was the Defensive Player Of The Year the previous season.  Even the Indianapolis Star’s Monteith agreed on that.  “Ron had been playing well”, he told Abrams in that 2012 interview.   “If you look at his stats for the first seven or so games that season, he was playing great:  averaging over 20 points a game and shooting the best three-point percentage of his career.”

But the suspensions killed whatever momentum that the team had been building.  The Pacers made the playoffs that year with a record of 44-38 but bowed out in the second round to the Pistons.  Jermaine O’Neal remains disappointed to this day that his team missed out on reaching its potential.  “I honestly believe that we had an opportunity to not only win one championship, but to win multiple championships with the way that team was built.”

The only difference in the Pacers lineup going into the 2005-06 season was that Reggie Miller had retired.  Everyone else had remained and the team looked like it was poised to make a run.  In the pre-season, Larry Bird and Artest appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated.  All looked calm and peaceful in Indianapolis.  Apparently, it wasn’t.

In December of 2005, Artest demanded to be traded out of town.   None of his teammates could understand why he would do such a thing and many were angry that he would make that demand, especially after they had paid such a heavy price the season before in trying to defend him at The Palace and the subsequent aftermath.

Pacers’ GM Donnie Walsh told Abrams in 2012 “A lot of the players stood up for Ronnie (during the brawl in Detroit).  Jermaine got suspended.  Jack got suspended.  A lot of guys got punished.  When he stood up and said he wanted to be traded, that really put the team in a whole different situation.  They felt like he wanted to walk out of there after he had really hurt the team.”

Stephen Jackson was particularly upset.  “Yeah, I felt betrayed when Ron asked to be traded.  I had lost $3 million.  It kind of felt like, ‘OK, we put our careers and stuff on the line for you and you want to leave us?’  We had a great team that year.  We were actually the best team in the league.  So It kind of hurt.”  Artest was put on the inactive list and eventually traded in January of 2006 to Sacramento for Peja Stojakovic.  After the brawl in Detroit, Artest played a total of sixteen games for Indiana.  That 2005-06 Pacers team finished the season with a record of 41-41.

After leaving Indy, Artest played three seasons in the California capital.  He then played a season in Houston and four in Los Angeles with the Lakers.  He played part of a season with the Knicks and then spent a year playing in Europe before coming back to the NBA to play his last two seasons with the Lakers again.  In 2010, he won an NBA title as part of the Los Angeles Lakers.  His NBA career ended after the 2016-17 season.  He was 37.

In 2011, Artest changed his name to Metta World Peace.  According to the Basketball Reference website, he changed his name to The Panda’s Friend in 2014.  In 2018, he married Maya Sandiford and changed his name again, this time to Metta Sandiford-Artest. 

Jermaine O’Neal sees that point in time – the brawl, the aftermath and then Artest wanting out of Indy -- as one that changed the team’s destiny.  He told Abrams, “After the brawl, we had a lot of issues off the court, situations, and it just didn’t feel right no more.  It didn’t feel right.  It got to a point where you almost wanted a change.  Donnie Walsh, I’m sure he felt the same way.  That’s why he went to New York (in 2008).  In the end, it wasn’t about basketball no more.  It didn’t feel good.  It didn’t feel good playing the games.  It just felt like a city that was divided.  You had people here on this side that’s really behind us, and another side that really wasn’t.”

He continued, “I felt like if I didn’t leave – and it was one of the most difficult decisions that I had to make – then that organization would never be free of it.  I’ve lived in that environment (in Indianapolis) where you can walk into a restaurant and there’s so much love there that you get ready to pay your bill and your bill is paid already.  Or anywhere you go, there’s just so much love.....it’s one of those hardworking small towns where people go to work every day and then they come home and turn on their TVs and watch those games because those games are a part of their lives.....I didn’t want to leave because I always wanted to finish my career there.”

In July of 2008, O’Neal was traded to Toronto as part of a multi-player deal.  He played 41 games with the Raptors before he was traded to Miami.  He then played a season and a half with the Heat.  In the summer of 2010, he signed as a free agent with the Boston Celtics.  He played parts of two seasons there before signing a free agent deal with Phoenix.  After a season with the Suns, the six-time All-Star finished his 18-year career playing a season with the Golden State Warriors.

Artest was almost like a child after the melee.  While in the room with his teammates, he naively asked Jackson “Jack, you think we going to get into trouble?”  According to Jackson, Jamaal Tinsley broke out laughing hysterically at that.  Jackson was taken aback by Artest’s question.  “Are you serious, bro?  Trouble?  Ron, we’ll be lucky if we have a freaking job!”  That question did everything to tell Jackson that Artest wasn’t necessarily in a cogent state of mind at that point.

When the game was done and everyone had had a chance to digest what had happened at The Palace that night, fines and suspensions were levied by NBA Commissioner David Stern.  Some were predictable, some were not.  Many were almost egregiously harsh, considering that much of what happened would never have occurred had it not been for the fan, John Green, throwing the beer at Artest that ignited the situation.

Artest was suspended for the remainder of the season.  That meant he was gone for a total of 86 games – 73 in the regular season and 13 in the playoffs.  He lost $4,995,000 in salary due to the suspension.

Stephen Jackson was suspended for 30 games and lost $1,700,000. 

Jermaine O’Neal had initially been suspended for 25 games but he appealed and a federal arbitrator reduced it to 15 games.  He ended up forfeiting $4,111,000 in salary. 

Anthony Johnson, of the Pacers, was gone for five games and lost $122,222.  Reggie Miller was suspended for one game and lost $61,111. 

Ben Wallace was suspended for six games and lost $400,000 in salary.  The Pistons’ Chauncey Billups was gone for one game and lost $60,611.  Derrick Coleman got a one game suspension and lost $50,000.  Elden Campbell was tossed for one game and lost $48,888.

Artest, Jackson, O’Neal, Johnson and David Harrison, all of them players from the Pacers, were charged and faced legal consequences over their actions that night.  O’Neal was charged with two counts of assault and battery.  Each of his teammates received one charge.  Each of the players were fined $250 and received one year‘s probation.  Artest, Jackson, O’Neal and Harrison received sentences of 60 hours of community service while Johnson received 100 hours of community service.

Each of the Pacers players were ordered to undergo anger management therapy.

The fans that participated in the melee weren’t exempt from the long arm of the law either.  After police obtained video of what had occurred that night, they began making arrests.  The Oakland County prosecutor, David Gorcyca, identified John Green as the man who had thrown the beer at Artest.  On November 30, eleven days after the game, the Pistons and Palace Sports and Entertainment banned Green and Charles Haddad from ever attending any events at the arena again.  They revoked their season tickets also. 

Green had several prior convictions as well, including counterfeiting, carrying a concealed weapon, felony assault and three drunk driving convictions.  At the time of the game, he had been on a court-ordered probation for a conviction of driving under the influence of alcohol.  It was Green’s actions that night that ignited the powder keg.

The only person in the whole situation who did any jail time was John Green.  He was convicted of misdemeanor assault and battery and served 30 days in jail and was also given two years’ probation. 

The NBA appealed the arbitrator’s ruling regarding Jermaine O’Neal that reduced his suspension.  That case went before the U.S. District court in Brooklyn on December 30, 2004.  The NBA argued that under the terms of the collective bargaining agreement, Stern had the absolute authority to rule on suspensions and to hear appeals for all incidents that occurred on the basketball court. 

But in this case, the judge ruled that what happened in O’Neal’s situation occurred off the court, and therefore, the arbitrator was within his jurisdiction to reduce the suspension.  Once that ruling was brought down, O’Neal figured that would be the end of it.  In February, he was named an All-Star and was voted to start the game. 

The 2005 All-Star Game was played in Denver and when O’Neal arrived, he saw no pictures of himself anywhere.  Traditionally, the starters’ pictures are plastered everywhere but his was nowhere.  He looked in a program and other promotional materials.  Neither his name nor his likeness were anywhere to be found.  He was an All-Star, but the league was not going to acknowledge his existence there.

O’Neal discussed that on the All The Smoke podcast with Matt Barnes and Stephen Jackson.  “You’d think that once we went to court and went through the process, they’d say ‘We good’.  But they didn’t.  I come back, I get reinstated after fifteen games...I get back, I get reinstated and I still make the All-Star team.  I’m voted in as a starter.  Me and my wife get there, and there wasn’t a picture of me to be found.  That was the first time I understood ...when I’m telling you ‘no picture nowhere’...I’m looking through the books, no picture.  That was the moment when I really understood what that was.”

The immediate reaction to what had happened that night at The Palace seemed to be in favour of the Pacers' players.  On ESPN's post-game show NBA Shootaround, host John Saunders called some of the Pistons’ fans "a bunch of punks". Tim Legler said the fans "crossed the line".  And Stephen A. Smith said "They (the fans) should be ashamed of themselves and some of them should be arrested as far as I'm concerned."  But that support for the players may have been short-lived.

Four days later, ESPN Vice President Mark Shapiro walked all that back when he put out a statement that read, “I wish the studio hadn’t laid the blame solely on the backs of the fans Friday night.”

Indianapolis Star columnist Mark Monteith encapsulated the goings-on at the Palace that Friday night this way. "There were roughly a half-dozen elements that caused that brawl to happen. If Artest doesn't make that hard foul on Wallace, it doesn't happen. If Ben Wallace doesn't react the way he did, it doesn't happen.  If the referees control the situation, it doesn’t happen.  If Artest doesn’t go lay down on the scorer’s table, it doesn’t happen.  If the fan doesn’t throw his beverage, it doesn’t happen.  There was a continuation there, a succession of things.  You take away any one of them and the whole thing doesn’t happen.”

But Dr. Stephen P. Gonzalez of the Association for Applied Sport Psychology feels that it’s important to look at the incident through the eyes of the player as a person.  “He still had a draft beer thrown on him at ‘The Malice at the Palace’”, Gonzalez said in a 2021 interview with foxsports.com.  “At that point, your safety is compromised.  He went into, basically, defensive mode.  People call him all these names and say that he’s this terrible person when really, what would you do if somebody disrespected you by throwing a beer on you, and you weren’t sure if you were going to be safe?”

“I’m not justifying the outcome of everything, but at the same time, let’s empathize and put ourselves in the situation of the athlete.  What would you do there, when you’ve been disrespected like that?  It’s dehumanizing, and it rocks you to your core.  It’s a shame to see people treat you like that.”

“We talk about the arrogance of athletes.  They won’t sign this or they’re not accessible.  Well, if you want athletes to be accessible and if you want athletes to embrace fans more, let’s make sure we’re showing respect, and we’re making sure it’s a safe place to be.”

That is one thing that The Palace was not, necessarily, in 2004.  Safe.  Especially given the intensity with which these two teams played against each other whenever they had faced each other.  There were only three police officers in the arena when this incident broke out.  Security was minimal.  There was nothing preventing fans from intruding upon or impeding the players or the game action.  That fans were able to throw objects at players and then tramp down and get on to the court is something that would never happen in a game today. 

As a result of what happened at The Palace on that night in 2004, the NBA introduced strict measures on the amounts of security that teams required at every game.  The league also imposed limits on selling times, amounts and portion sizes for alcohol sales at games. 

As time moved on from that night, one theme seemed to stand out.  Each person who was directly involved in the brawl and the aftermath seemed to have a ‘pre-Malice’ life and a ‘post-Malice’ life.  To begin with, let’s look at the Indiana Pacers as a team.  Larry Bird had done a fine job assembling a talented squad of players.  They felt that they were a more talented team in the 2003-04 playoffs than the Pistons, but because of other reasons, they could not defeat them.  Going into the 2004-05 season, they felt they were a championship contender, but the suspensions took the life out of them.

Bird had become the Pacers’ president in 2003 and he put together a team that was ready to play with any and all of the big boys of the NBA by that 2004-05 year.  That brawl and the suspensions that followed it destroyed all of that hope.  “Well, you build teams hopefully to get an opportunity to play in the Finals, and they were definitely good enough”, Bird told Marc Spears of The Undefeated.  “Even though we went to the finals in 2000, I think that (2004-05) team was better.  They didn’t get to show us how good they were.”

 

Before that game, Ron Artest had been playing at a tremendous clip.  His numbers had been impressive.  His general manager at the time, Donnie Walsh, loved him, or at least, he loved Artest’s potential.  In 2002, after they acquired him from Chicago, Walsh had given Artest a six-year extension worth $42 million.  Walsh also told Artest that he would never trade him.  Artest returned that respect to Walsh saying that he was like a father-figure to him.

‘Pre-Malice’, Artest was a 20-point per game man who was the Defensive Player Of The Year the previous season.  Even the Indianapolis Star’s Monteith agreed on that.  “Ron had been playing well”, he told Abrams in that 2012 interview.   “If you look at his stats for the first seven or so games that season, he was playing great:  averaging over 20 points a game and shooting the best three-point percentage of his career.”

But the suspensions killed whatever momentum that the team had been building.  The Pacers made the playoffs that year with a record of 44-38 but bowed out in the second round to the Pistons.  Jermaine O’Neal remains disappointed to this day that his team missed out on reaching its potential.  “I honestly believe that we had an opportunity to not only win one championship, but to win multiple championships with the way that team was built.”

The only difference in the Pacers lineup going into the 2005-06 season was that Reggie Miller had retired.  Everyone else had remained and the team looked like it was poised to make a run.  In the pre-season, Larry Bird and Artest appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated.  All looked calm in peaceful in Indianapolis.  Apparently, it wasn’t.

In December of 2005, Artest demanded to be traded out of town.   None of his teammates could understand why he would do such a thing and many were angry that he would make that demand, especially after they had paid such a heavy price the season before in trying to defend him at The Palace and the subsequent aftermath.

Pacers’ GM Donnie Walsh told Abrams in 2012 “A lot of the players stood up for Ronnie (during the brawl in Detroit).  Jermaine got suspended.  Jack got suspended.  A lot of guys got punished.  When he stood up and said he wanted to be traded, that really put the team in a whole different situation.  They felt like he wanted to walk out of there after he had really hurt the team.”

Stephen Jackson was particularly upset.  “Yeah, I felt betrayed when Ron asked to be traded.  I had lost $3 million.  It kind of felt like, ‘OK, we put our careers and stuff on the line for you and you want to leave us?’  We had a great team that year.  We were actually the best team in the league.  So It kind of hurt.”  Artest was put on the inactive list and eventually traded in January of 2006 to Sacramento for Peja Stojakovic.  After the brawl in Detroit, Artest played a total of sixteen games for Indiana.  That 2005-06 Pacers team finished the season with a record of 41-41.

After leaving Indy, Artest played three seasons in the California capital.  He then played a season in Houston and four in Los Angeles with the Lakers.  He played part of a season with the Knicks and then spent a year playing in Europe before coming back to the NBA to play his last two seasons with the Lakers again.  In 2010, he won an NBA title as part of the Los Angeles Lakers.  His NBA career ended after the 2016-17 season.  He was 37.

In 2011, Artest changed his name to Metta World Peace.  According to the Basketball Reference website, he changed his name to The Panda’s Friend in 2014.  In 2018, he married Maya Sandiford and changed his name again, this time to Metta Sandiford-Artest. 

Jermaine O’Neal sees that point in time – the brawl, the aftermath and then Artest wanting out of Indy -- as one that changed the team’s destiny.  He told Abrams, “After the brawl, we had a lot of issues off the court, situations, and it just didn’t feel right no more.  It didn’t feel right.  It got to a point where you almost wanted a change.  Donnie Walsh, I’m sure he felt the same way.  That’s why he went to New York (in 2008).  In the end, it wasn’t about basketball no more.  It didn’t feel good.  It didn’t feel good playing the games.  It just felt like a city that was divided.  You had people here on this side that’s really behind us, and another side that really wasn’t.”

He continued, “I felt like if I didn’t leave – and it was one of the most difficult decisions that I had to make – then that organization would never be free of it.  I’ve lived in that environment (in Indianapolis) where you can walk into a restaurant and there’s so much love there that you get ready to pay your bill and your bill is paid already.  Or anywhere you go, there’s just so much love.....it’s one of those hardworking small towns where people go to work every day and then they come home and turn on their TVs and watch those games because those games are a part of their lives.....I didn’t want to leave because I always wanted to finish my career there.”

In July of 2008, O’Neal was traded to Toronto as part of a multi-player deal.  He played 41 games with the Raptors before he was traded to Miami.  He then played a season and a half with the Heat.  In the summer of 2010, he signed as a free agent with the Boston Celtics.  He played parts of two seasons there before signing a free agent deal with Phoenix.  After a season with the Suns, the six-time All-Star finished his 18-year career playing a season with the Golden State Warriors.