It remains the most famous brawl in NBA history, what former commissioner David Stern remembers as the toughest thing to happen to him as commissioner:
The Malice at the Palace.
It was the final minute of an already decided game between the Pistons and Pacers on Nov. 19, 2004. Ron Artest had fouled Ben Wallace hard, Wallace shoved Artest hard, and after that there were a lot of guys squaring off and looking tough but no actual punches were thrown. While the referees sorted out what they were going to do, Artest did the very Artest thing of laying on the scorer’s table to wait. At that point, a fan threw a drink and hit Artest, who flew into a rage and went into the crowd to find that fan and started throwing punches, and then all hell broke loose and the league ended up with a black eye. (The best thing I may have ever read about it was Jonathan Abrams oral history at Grantland.)
Suns’ forward Josh Jackson says he was there as an 8-year-old boy, and he told Marc Spears of the Undefeated (as part of a diary series) when everyone started throwing things at the court, he joined in.
I was 8 years old. I was kind of sitting right at midcourt about 20 rows up. I remember seeing so many people everywhere fighting. I remember [then-Indiana Pacers forward] Jermaine O’Neal getting hit with a chair. That was one of my most vivid memories. I remember Ron Artest laying on the scorer’s table and someone throwing a drink on him.
I was looking around and everyone was throwing something onto the court. I am not going to lie. I threw a water bottle. Why? It’s my home team. I’m a Pistons fan. What? The Pacers came in here throwing punches on my favorite players. I couldn’t have that. But that is neither here nor there.
Fortunately for Jackson David Stern walked away as the commissioner or he might suspend Jackson 10 games for that, Stern came down hard on such things.