Five Little Words That Started It All

As every schoolchild knows by heart, Nov. 19, 2004 was the date of the Malice in the Palace NBA brawl between the Detroit Pistons and Indiana Pacers. That of course is the fight in which the Pacers' Ron Artest went into the stands to tangle with fans, one of whom he thought had thrown a beverage at him. But there's more to this story. Only now as the two-year anniversary of the fight approaches, are we learning the telling details of that fateful night.

First, John Green, the fan who punched Artest and struck him with the cup, has been told that he has been forever banned from Pistons home games. Hey, it only took two years. But more on that in a minute. Now, the real news.

According to The Smoking Gun, we now know what really ignited the melee; Artest said something to Detroit's Ben Wallace, just before Green launched his beer cup. The statement is from Matt Dobek, Pistons VP of public relations, who was present at the game:

I was sitting at the corner of the court by the Pistons bench, holding coach Brown's crutches. I observed Artest laying on top of the scorer's table, and heard Artest tell Ben Wallace "You can suck my balls." ... Dobek concluded by saying "I thought someone might get killed."

Green, 41, of West Bloomfield, Mich., recently received a letter from the Pistons banishing him from The Palace, and threatening arrest if he ever does show up there. From USA Today:

Green says he'd apologize to Artest in person and buy him dinner if the Sacramento Kings star would lift a restraining order against him. As for the banishment letter, Green says he'll try to sell it on eBay.

And they all lived happily, ever after. As long as nobody told anyone to suck their balls.

Fan Who Threw Cup Is Banned For Life [IndyStar.com]
Words Sparked Malice At The Palace [The Smoking Gun]