http://grantland.com/features/an-oral-history-malice-palace/

reading journal: text 1 (malice in the palace)

Written by: Jonothan Abrams

On November 19th, 2004 at the palace of Auburn Hills, Michigan an unreal event occurred that has changed the NBA forever. A hostile Detroit crowd that escalated an event that was already more than it needed to be. An out of control brawl between two fierce rivals that had a history beef. The incident was never controlled correctly due to the referees not being able to handle the agitated players. It was up to the players, coaches, personal bodyguards and assistants to try and calm the situation down.

The fans and players have never had a situation like this before. Action without thinking and natural instinct looked like the same thing for bystanders and viewers. The Detroit home crowd was boiling over because they were losing to there rival Indiana Pacers and after Ron Artest hard foul on Detroit’s Ben Wallace, they were furious at the pacer players especially Artest. The fans had felt like it was them getting beat up and losing. This is what made them make those split-second decisions that would start the malicious attack between the players and fans. Why were these fans so into the sport that it makes them make these crazy decisions? well for some fans who are committed to there team they feel as though they are apart of the teams fights and the loses, it’s their identification. This combined with the alcohol in their system, they make rational decisions and on this specific night in Detroit it caused the fans to step way over the line. These rational decisions come from the fact that people feel the actions are more intentional than they actually are. Hearing this you could say that “why don’t you just get rid of alcohol.” Well doing this does decrease the amount of violence that goes down, making it a more family-friendly event, it mean’s that the ticket prices go up because they cant rely on the alcohol for income, which decreases the number of people who go to these sports events.

What was it that made these fans so mad at these professional sports stars that hadn’t done anything wrong. Just a few months ago nearly the same Detroitroit pistons team had beat the rivial Indiana Pacers in the Eastern conference finals. They then went on to win the NBA finals easily. The young Pacer team was ready this season to come in and dethrone the Pistons. They were having a great start to the season with multiple players improving as well as the addition of Stephen Jackson a great teammate who just won an NBA title in 2003 with the San Antonio Spurs. Due to the great start of the Pacers, there was talk around that they had a shot to get past Detroit and into the finals this year. Detroit supporters would have been worried on the inside but portrayed that the pistons would be fine. So when November 19th came around and they were being beaten decisively by the Pacers they would have been upset. This is because reporters and analyst would be talking about the pacers being able to beat Detroit this year. There was another instigation in the initial fight between the two teams. This was that one of the Pacer players on the bench told the hot-headed star of the Pacers Ron Artest was told that he had another foul he could lay before he was taken off. This is where the problem started because as one of the pacer player who let pistons player Ben Wallace score an easy basket, Ron came running in to block/foul Ben. Ben was fouled hard and got angry. Ben was angry because he had recently been dealing with his grandmas funeral and was already an aggressive guy. He could not tolerate the foul and turned around with his eyes wide opened and shoved Ron straight in the chest. This action is what caused the players to fight because they werent gonna watch there teammates and not support them.

This fan and player brawl was an extreme event that has never happened before or happened since then. I could never completely relate to how the players felt because as I have never been in that rare situation before. This does not mean that I haven’t been or heard of a situation were the players, referees or fans/parents have got into an argument or stepped over the line when it comes to language and respect for the players. To be apart and hear of these experiences was very new and shocking to be a part of. One of these incidents was when one of my fellow rugby teammates was out on the field. he was right out near the touchline. A man on that side was yelling at my teammate saying and cussing things like, “your terrible, get off the field” and “get off the field you girl.” He was on the same side as his rugby team, so this would have made him feel more comfortable when saying these slurs. At the time we were only about 13 -14 years old and in the middle of the rugby game so we really could do nothing about it while playing so for the man making these remarks, it was easy for him to say. In the end, there was nothing we could really do but tell the coaches who would then talk to him. He was very gutless and denied saying anything. If you think about it this was probably how the fans in Detroit felt about there actions. They were up in the stands and the players could do nothing about it. The problem for them was that a player was lying on the scorer’s table, due to the poor jobs by the refs he was not taken off. When he was on the scorer’s table he broke the barrier between player and fans because there was nothing in the way to stop them. This meant when the fan threw the cup of beer with ice in it straight on to Artest’s face he was furious and climbed up into the stands.

In conclusion, sports fans can be a result of there surroundings. This can be seen from the “malice and the Palace and my experience at my rugby game. This is because of the obstacles, maturity and interferences that occur when the sport is taken place. This can be seen because I believe that in the situation of our rugby game if it was someone older rather than a young kid then they wouldn’t have said that. So because it was a young person he didn’t think he would have to deal with any consequences because my teammate was too small to stand up to the older guy. I also know that if there was nothing stopping the players from getting to the fans then they wouldn’t have thrown the beer at the players, this is because these players are huge athletes, some with difficult upbringings that the fans would not consider upsetting.

Join the conversation! 1 Comment

  1. Three focussing questions:

    1) Why do people get so involved in sport events?
    2) Do you think there were underlying tensions that were about more than the sports game that lead to this event (you might need to read another article to find this out)
    3) Have you been in a situation where things have got out of hand like this. Why did it happen?

    • make sure you use quotes from the texts you’re referring to to support your answers.
    Reply

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