It’s weird to think of the ninth game of the NBA regular season as a statement game, but that’s how the Pacers viewed their Nov. 19 matchup with the defending champion Pistons in Auburn Hills. They weren’t just interested in beating the Pistons; they wanted to send a shot across the bow of the NBA in a nationally televised game. This is the Pacers’ year. They dominated the Pistons that night and were leading 97-82 with 45.9 seconds remaining. “When people ask me about that game in Detroit, it was how we just physically pounded them,” Burke said. “They just had no life. We took the air right out of them and, I thought, a little bit of their heart. I know it was November, but I thought, Here we go, fasten your seatbelts, it’s gonna be a hell of a ride. And the ride went the other way…”
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Still, Carlisle and the organization proved largely unflappable. The game after the fight – Nov. 20 against Orlando – the Pacers played with a six-man roster and fought valiantly before losing 86-83 before a sellout home crowd that was in a froth. Ultimately, the Pacers would go on to win 44 games that year and reach the second round of the playoffs, where they lost to the Pistons in six games. “I really thought we had a chance (to win a title) with that team, I really did,” Walsh said. “But when the fight broke out, it just broke the team up. I remember the first game after the brawl and … we had so many different guys who’d never played out there, I thought it would be horrible. But he coached them the same way and got them to the playoffs.”
Untold: Malice at the Palace, the first episode in the Untold anthology series, interviews several players and staff from both teams involved in the Nov. 19 incident, which took place at the Palace of Auburn Hills during the waning moments of the intense game. The punishments doled as a result of the brawl were the most strict in the history of the NBA, including Ron Artest being suspended the entire season. Several fans were arrested for their involvement in the altercation.
Retired iconic Pacer turned NBA analyst Reggie Miller explains how the initial incident was a “dust-up” between teams, a common occurrence. “That happens all the time,” he says in the doc. “That’s all fake.” Miller explains Artest exacerbated the situation by laying down on the scorer’s table, which Artest says in the doc he did just to cool down for a moment, a tool he learned from his psychiatrist. It was at the point Artest was hit by a beer can thrown by a fan and then all hell broke loose as fans got into altercations with players, throwing objects, including a chair.
Then Pacer Jermaine O’Neal was stunned by the reports and how the scope of the incident narrowed extensively. “All of a sudden, my character is in question,” he says. “These are thugs. That’s literally the word that they used. And everyone signed off, ‘Yeah, it’s rap music and it’s this.’ Well, they are not saying that when hockey [players] are beating the hell out of each other for decades.”
One of the darkest chapters in Detroit sports history gets the deep-dive treatment in Netflix’s “Untold: Malice at the Palace,” which unpacks the infamous 2004 brawl at the Palace of Auburn Hills when players and fans came to blows. The story of the near-riot isn’t exactly untold, as it’s been examined up and down and all around and has been aired and re-aired an untold number of times. But the documentary special, part of Netflix’s five-part sports-doc series — other chapters focus on boxer Christy Martin, tennis player Mardy Fish and Caitlyn Jenner — takes on the incident from a unique perspective, at least around these parts, looking at it through the eyes of the Indiana Pacers team at the center of the storm.
“Untold” partially hangs on the promise of unseen video footage that seeks to change the narrative of what happened that night, which never really arrives. But the story speaks for itself, and shows what happens when a dangerous combination of emotions, adrenaline and alcohol mix in a combustible environment. It could have happened anywhere, it happened to happen at the Palace. And hopefully it never happens again.
And those too young to remember the “Malice at the Palace” can get a prime look inside one of the wildest — and most violent — endings to an NBA game in league history. A Nextflix docuseries in one of its episodes will feature the Nov. 19, 2004, brawl inside the Palace at Auburn Hills. The “Untold” trailer shows a lot of Ron Artest, former Pacers star now known as Metta Sandiford-Artest who first entered the stands that night, saying how he wants the full story out “frame by frame.” It also features an animated Stephen Jackson who proclaims “I’m never talking about this sh– again.”
Ten people (five players, four fans and Ben Wallace’s brother, David) were charged and pleaded guilty to varying assault or battery charges. Some blamed the players for the melee, some blamed the fans and the guy who threw the drink apologized in 2006 for the whole thing (and was the only person to serve jail time related to the incident). For more, you’ll have to check out Netflix on Aug. 10.
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September 16, 2021 | 8:36 pm EDT Update
Keith Smith: The Shanghai Sharks have signed former NBAers Jimmer Fredette and Noah Vonleh. This will be Fredette’s 5th season with Shanghai. He last played in the NBA in 2019 with the Phoenix Suns. Vonleh was briefly with the Brooklyn Nets last season. This is his first season with Shanghai.
NBA star Giannis Antetokounmpo was in Greece for a meeting with the country’s prime minister Thursday and a special ceremony to bestow Greek citizenship on his mother Veronica and younger brother Alex. Antetokounmpo, who led the Milwaukee Bucks to the NBA championship in July, attended the ceremony at the official residence of Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis. The 26-year-old Antetokounmpo was born in Athens, the son of Nigerian immigrants. He was granted Greek citizenship in 2013, allowing him to travel to the United States and join the Bucks later that year.
“We always felt Greek, but now we have an official stamp and we are happy,” Antetokounmpo told reporters after the ceremony. “Alex and my mom are Greek citizens now.” Antetokounmpo also traveled to Greece in August with his brother Thanassis, carrying the Larry O’Brien NBA championship trophy. He took the trophy to the ancient Acropolis in Athens to celebrate with members of his family.
September 16, 2021 | 8:07 pm EDT Update
Keith Smith: Cleaning up some loose ends on TPEs for the Boston Celtics… The Celtics used the Daniel Theis $5M TPE to acquire Kris Dunn in the three-team deal with the Hawks and Kings. That leaves Boston with five current TPEs. Those TPEs and expiration dates are in the next tweet. 1/2