1Running head: 9-1 Final Project Submission: Report and Press Release

9-1 Final Project: Report and Press Release

National Basketball Association – Pacers and Pistons – Brawl: “Malice at The Palace”

William Tanda

Southern New Hampshire University

1Running head: 9-1 Final Project Submission: Report and Press Release


Sports Organization and Summary of Event:

The Malice at the Palace was an incident 2004 between the Detroit Piston and the Indiana

Pacers. This incident involved a brawl between both teams with the main guys being Ron Artest

(who now goes by Metta World Peace) of the Indian Pacers and Ben Wallace of the Detroit

Piston. Wallace had gotten fouled by Artest which he did not like and shoved Artest towards the

scorer’s table. Artest was laying on the scorer’s table not trying to get involved further with

Wallace. While lying on the table a man threw a cup with water down at Artest, which caused

him to make his way up into the stands towards the man and began punching the him. Multiple

players from both teams made their way into the stands as multiple object were being thrown at

the Pacers players as some of them were fighting people in the stands and other were trying to

rescue their teammates and make their way back into the locker room. Players from both teams

received lengthy suspensions and the incident changed the way the referees officiate the game

today. For example, back in the 90’s players were able to get away with trash talk to each on the

court and the game was rougher with fouls and overall play. In today’s game if a player were to

get into an opposing player face and say something to him the refs would quickly jump in and

most likely both players would receive a technical foul. This incident affected both teams and to

some extent the rest of the NBA in that the brawl wasn’t just shown on ESPN but it made

national news as well. In addition, it also affected ticket sales across the league because people

didn’t feel safe after seeing the incident on television. As a result of the actions taken by the

NBA this incident did not have much of a lasting effect on the NBA. Since the incident the NBA

has seen fights and other confrontations, but they haven’t come close to this incident. In my next

paragraph I will discuss the challenges that both organizations faced after the incident.

1Running head: 9-1 Final Project Submission: Report and Press Release

Particular Challenges within Incident/Organization:

After the incident was reviewed by the NBA both teams had multiple players receive very

lengthy suspensions with Artest being suspended for the rest of the season. In addition to Artest

fellow teammate Stephen Jackson was suspended 30 games, Jermaine O’Neal 25 games and

Anthony Johnson received 5 games. Ben Wallace was suspended only 6 games. Additional

players from both teams were suspended 1 game for leaving the bench during the altercation.

With these suspensions it forced both teams to find replacements for their suspended players.

This altercation made people wonder where was the security? How does something like this

happen? This made the NBA upgrade their security at all games across the league which is a big

reason as to why this incident did not affect the NBA for long and they were able to move on

from the incident. The NBA has had fights during games before but they never spilled into the

stand and involved fans provoking players by throwing things at them. With the NBA upgrading

their security they have been able to keep the games safe for everyone involved and the NBA has

a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to fighting so the refs are quick to disrupt any

confrontation from happening.

Societal Perception:

The Indiana Pacers were looked at as a classy and respected organization by society and

the Pistons were looked at as this dirty team. The harshest critic of the situation was by the Pacer

owner Herb Simon who felt the security at Auburn Hills arena was “profoundly inadequate and

the situation would not have gotten out of hand if the arena had better security”. The incident

changed the way people looked at the Pacers specifically because there was already a negative

perception of the Pistons. The Pacers had to figure out how to get rid of their negative image to

1Running head: 9-1 Final Project Submission: Report and Press Release

which they did by taking the money from the suspended players since they weren’t going to be

paid during the suspension and they donated $2.4 million dollars to local children’s charities.

The two teams played each other again Christmas day of the same season and before the game

players from both teams joined together and handed out presents to children and then proceeded

to play the game and had no incident. The NBA is probably one of if not the most kid friendly

league there is in professional sports so it is vital for them to make sure that parents always feel

safe bringing their children to the games and also for adults to feel safe as well.

Economic Impact:

The NBA has had great economic impact in both Detroit, Michigan and Indianapolis,

Indiana. In Detroit while the Pistons have not had much success on the court in some time they

have had a positive impact of the economy in the city. In 2016 the Detroit Piston announced

plans to move from their arena in the suburb of Auburn Hills to downtown Detroit into a new are

now known as the Little Caesars Arena. Last year the Piston made the move official to

downtown, which in return opened up many opportunities to the people living in the area.

According to John Gallagher who is a write for the Detroit Free Press the move downtown could

generate almost $600 million in revenue and provide 2,000 jobs. This is really important for the

city of Detroit given the economic history they have had for quite some time. If the NBA had

not placed a team in Detroit these opportunities may have never happened for this city.

However, while the move downtown will be a profitable one it is yet to be determine if these

predictions will actually happen. Spencer Layson who is a writer for the Michigan Business and

Entrepreneurial Law Review reports that this move will have long term costs. The cost of the

Little Caesars Arena has surpassed the projected $450 million with the final cost being $732.6

1Running head: 9-1 Final Project Submission: Report and Press Release

million dollars. As of now it is too early to tell if in fact this move will actually generate the

projected $600 million in revenue.


Anytime a brawl breaks out at a sporting event it is never a good look for the organization

that is involved. In this case, there wasn’t just a fight between two players or two fans in the

stands fighting. These involved players fighting each other and going into the stands and

fighting fans also. This event made fans feel like the venue was an unsafe place to be. For

whatever reason this didn’t affect ticket sale as fans still supported both teams. The Pacers had

an almost sold out crowd at their 1st home game since the brawl according to the IndyStar.

Sociocultural Impact:

Some of the factors that determined the sociocultural impact of the incident were that

many people looked up to these athletes as role models and heroes. Society is a huge influence in

the sports world. These athletes have a huge influence on how fans perceive them and how the

game is valued. By watching these two teams fight each other and having fans become a part of

the fight as well, it has misconstrued people judgement of these athletes. Many people may have

changed their perception of these athletes due to the incident that happened.

Following the Event:

After the incident many people were left wondering where was the security and why were

things able to get so out of hand. David Stern, who was the NBA commissioner at the time,

reviewed the tapes and concluded that changes had to be made. According to Candace Buckner,

who is a writer for the USA Today Stern, made changes to security league wide which included

hiring more experienced security and conducting background checks as well. This change would

affect the entire NBA not just the Pacers and Pistons.

1Running head: 9-1 Final Project Submission: Report and Press Release

Public Policy and the Law:

The role the law plays into the sport organization, this event is to ensure that not only

safety of the two organizations but the safety of the fans as well and to help prevent any illegal or

criminal activity from happening. The role of public policy in this event would be to address

issues that the public has and making sure the necessary steps are taken to make sure that the

issues are handled.

Cultural and Political Change:

As a result of the event, the organizations players that were involved were looked at like

animals and the commissioners enforced a dress code that was viewed by players as racism

according to Stephen Jackson of the Indiana Pacers he felt as though this was done because of

the fight. He believes that the NBA feared that “its players would become too hip hop” and felt

it was racially motivated also due to the brawl.

Positive and Negative Effects:

A positive effect to the event that happened was that security was upgraded to provide

safety to players and fans. In addition, both teams came together on Christmas Day before their

first game against each other since the incident and handed out gifts to children. After the game

Rasheed Wallace who was one of the players involved in the incident for the Pistons gave his

headband to a kid who was wearing Pacers colors. When Wallace was asked about it he said

“just a kid that asked for a headband, wasn’t nothing more than that.”


Peoples perspective towards people of African American ethnicity change in a negative

way as a result of this incident. When it comes to African Americans being drafted

professionally or scouted in high school this could affect them in that college or professional

1Running head: 9-1 Final Project Submission: Report and Press Release

scout may decide to pass on signing or recruiting a player for their team if they have any history

of confrontations whether it be with teammates, coaches, or opposing players in fear that

something like this event may happen again. This further puts African Americans at a

disadvantage when it comes to athletics and it adds to the list of other issues they have to deal


Societal Pressure:

The aftermath of the brawl had many people in society questioning why and how was

something like this able to happen? People were asking where was the security when everything

was going down and had there been proper security in attendance then something like this may

have never happened. The expectation of this was that if the NBA wanted fans to continue to

support them and come to the games then the security at all arenas across the league must be

upgraded so that fans feel safe attending the games.


The leagues response to the event was well received by the fans. After reviewing the

incident former commissioner David Stern upgraded NBA security by hiring experienced

security for games and doing thorough background checks according to The Associated Press.

The support by the fans was shown on Christmas day that season when both teams played each

for the first time since the brawl in front of an almost sellout crowd. Had the fans not felt that

the NBA had done enough they would not have shown up in the numbers they did following this



With the NBA deciding to upgrade the security at all arenas across the league both the

Pistons and Pacers organizations were now forced to announce these policy and law changes to

1Running head: 9-1 Final Project Submission: Report and Press Release

fans as they attended future games and inform everyone what the consequences were for not

following these rules. An example of this before every game the public address announcer

informs fans of what the rules are for attending games and what will happen if these rules are not



These organizations can inform their players that when fans in attendance at their games

do not interact with anyone who is approaching them in a hostile many and learn different ways

of handling these situations even when they throw objects at them.

When society shifts their expectations for the organizations they should consider the

expectations of the fans, but at the same time only make changes if they feel as though that they

would benefit both the organization from any liability and also ensure the safety of the fans.

SPT 510 Final Project Press Release Worksheet


In tonight’s game, regarding the brawl between members of the Pistons and Pacers. Ben

Wallace of the Pistons was fouled with 46 seconds left in the game by Ron Artest of the Pacers

too which Wallace did not like and retaliated by shoving Artest and trying to make his way

towards him. The referees and players from both teams intervened. While the situation was

beginning to deescalate, Artest who was laying on the scores table while the situation was being

addressed was hit by a cup of water that was thrown by a male in the stands which caused Artest

to run up into the stands and began punching the man to which caused players from both teams

to run into the stands to get Artest. Which resulted in other fans throwing things at the Pacers

players. In result, more Pacer players ended up fighting Piston fans at the arena. Coaches and

1Running head: 9-1 Final Project Submission: Report and Press Release

team personnel had to go into the stands and escort their players into the locker room. Fans

questioned where the security was during this situation.

Response Addressed

A self-defense resolution strategy for the situation would be bolstering. As a result of this

incident, it made the commissioner aware of the lack of security across all NBA arenas and

allowed him to make the necessary changes so that something like this would be prevented from

happening in the future and as well as addressing fan policies at games and making them aware

of what will happen if they don’t follow these rules in the arena.

Future Events or Incidents

Moving forward, the NBA decided to upgrade the security at all arenas across the league

both the Pistons and Pacers organizations were forced to announce these policy and law changes

to fans as they attended future games and inform everyone what the consequences were for not

following these rules. The former NBA commissioner, David Stern, upgraded security presence

at all NBA arenas and did extensive background checks and only hired experienced personnel.


Craig, R. (2016). Malice in the Palace: The Incident. Spectrum: A Journal on Black Men, 4, 21-

1Running head: 9-1 Final Project Submission: Report and Press Release

41. Retrieved January 5, 2019, from


Buckner, C. (2014, November 6). As 'Malice at the Palace' brawl turns 10, impact lasts.

Retrieved January 5, 2019, from



The, A. P. (2004, Dec 01). NBA notes – stern: NBA will set league-wide security rules

; pacers- pistons brawl shows need to update current policy, he says. Columbian

Retrieved from



Buckner, C. (2014, November 16). As 'Malice at the Palace' brawl turns 10, impact lasts. USA

Today. Retrieved January 17, 2019, from



Layson, S. (2017). Economic Impact of the Little Caesars Arena. Michigan Business &

Entrepreneurial Law Review. Retrieved January 17, 2019, from

Economic Impact of the Little Caesars Arena

VanTryon, M. (2017, May 13). Stephen Jackson on Malice at the Palace: 'I thought my career

was over'. IndyStar. Retrieved January 17, 2019, from



Detroit Pistons to Move to Downtown in 2017, will Generate Additional $596.2M in Economic

1Running head: 9-1 Final Project Submission: Report and Press Release

Impact. (2016). DBusiness. Retrieved January 17, 2019, from




Sheridan, C. (2004, December 26). Calm rules in 1st Pistons-Pacers game since the brawl. The

Seattle Times. Retrieved January 17, 2019, from



Bybee, K. (2018). Racism, new NBA dress code go hand-in-hand. UWIRE Text. Retrieved from



The, A. P. (2004, Dec 01). NBA notes – stern: NBA will set league-wide security rules

; pacers- pistons brawl shows need to update current policy, he says. Columbian

Retrieved from



Sheridan, C. (2004). Calm rules in 1st Pistons-Pacers game since the Nov. 19 brawl Pistons 98,

Pacers 93. The Seattle Times (Seattle, WA). Retrieved from



  • SPT 510 Final Project Press Release Worksheet
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