Malice at the Little Caesars Arena
Pistons arena announcer tells crowd “THE MOMENT YOU MOVE, YOU’RE GOING TO JAIL” during Wednesday’s brawl
It’s hard to believe it’s been over 18 years since the Malice at the Palace. It’s also hard to believe that in the almost two decades since one of the ugliest moments in American sports, very little has been done to stop a repeat occurrence. In NBA arenas across the country, fans still sit inches away from players, beers in hands, shouting whatever ignorant combination of words pops into their heads. Players remain within arm’s length of the fans, frustrations pre-heated by spending their days on Twitter. Since November 19th, 2004, there’s been a tacit ceasefire between the two—the promise of mutually assured destruction should another Malice at Palace ever come to pass—but what are truces for if not to be broken?
All of which brings us to Wednesday night, when, at the rebadged Little Caesars Arena in Detroit, the Magic’s Moe Wagner shoved the Pistons’ Killian Hayes into the Detroit bench while scrambling for a loose ball, igniting a scrum well within water-bottle-hurling range of the crowd. Wagner was quickly surrounded by irate Pistons players as Hayes leapt to his feet, striking Wagner the back of the head. The scene quickly turned ugly as Wagner fell forward unconscious, but the Pistons public address announcer acted fast, hopping on the loudspeaker to issue the following edict.
A few seconds later, he doubled down with an even more emphatic warning.
Only in Detroit, man. Former homestead of the Bad Boy Pistons. The site of the NBA’s very own Gettysburg. Memories of the Malice at the Palace still loom large in the Motor City. There’s very real trauma there. Hell, some of the same die-hards who were there on that fateful November night in 2004 might have even been in the building on Wednesday. It’s history, sure, but it’s recent history and the reaction of the arena staff proved that and then some. Were fans really going to end up behind bars if they got up to take a leak during the scrum? It seems unlikely, but as we all know, at the Palace, anything can happen.