The “Malice at the Palace” is perhaps the most infamous fights in sports history. Fans traded injurious blows with NBA stars. Participants faced not just record-setting suspensions, but criminal charges, and the extremely image-conscious league was emboldened to police player culture even further.
But often lost in reflections on the violence and the fight’s cultural import is the actual basketball. When they met on November 19, 2004, the Pistons were the reigning champions while the Pacers were their bitter, and arguably superior rival. And particularly for Indiana, the Malice derailed greatness.
Indiana stars Ron Artest, Jermaine O’Neal, and Stephen Jackson served varying suspensions severe enough to ruin the Pacers’ season, and set in motion the team’s dismantling. To understand just how big a deal that was in pure basketball terms, you need to go back and look at how the ‘04 Pistons got past Indiana in the playoffs, how well O’Neal and Artest had been performing, how important an addition Jackson was to an already-excellent team, and how much this all meant retiring Pacer legend Reggie Miller. You need to rewind!
Watch the full episode of REWINDER above, and check out more episodes here.