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“If he’d just done that, we wouldn’t be talking about it” - Chauncey Billups on what could've prevented the Malice at the Palace

It works in the NHL, so why not the NBA?
Ron Artest during Malice at the Palace

Ron Artest

It was a blowout regular season game. The Indiana Pacers thrashed the Detroit Pistons and were up 97-82 with less than one minute left to play. But for some reason, several starters from both teams were still on the floor. And for some even more bizarre reason, Ron Artest, now Metta Sandiford-Artest, decided to hack Ben Wallace. Given the Pistons’ frustration and exhaustion, Wallace retaliated and grabbed Artest by the neck. And all hell broke loose, hence, the infamous “Malice at the Palace.

It should’ve been Ron vs. Ben at the Palace

Sharing his thoughts on the historic brawl, Pistons legend Chauncey Billups said things would’ve played out differently if one person just made the right, or should we say the apropos, decision at the time.

Billups pointed out there wouldn't have been no Malice at the Palace had Artest just squared up with Wallace right there and then. For “Mr. Big Shot,” two NBA players fighting wouldn’t be as big of a scandal as players vs. fans because “the league used to be” like that anyway.

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If Ron [Artest] would have just fought the dude that wanted to fight him, it wouldn’t have been no Malice at the Palace. We’d gave the people what they wanted. Just fight the dude [Wallace] that grabs you on your neck. If he’da just done that, we wouldn’t be talking about it, we’d just be like, ‘Damn, they boys got at it.’ That’s it, which is what the league used to be anyway. But that didn’t happen,” Billups said on the “All the Smoke” podcast last month.

NBA players are friends

To further back his statement, Billups revealed that “what most people don’t know” is that NBA players are friends off the court. So regardless of how horrible a fight between NBA players seems, the beef would eventually fade.

Again, Billups implied that’s what should have happened that night at the Palace.

It was really unfortunate because what most people don’t know is that even though when we in a battle, it’s on, but we all friends, though,” Billups continued. “We all homies, though. We work out in the summer, like we all cool…And what the perception is is that we were fighting [the Pacers.] The reality is none of us fought. It was the fans fighting y’all.

Indeed, Malice at the Palace was the last thing the Pistons and the Pacers organization would want to happen that season. As expected, the brawl's aftermath saw several key players from both teams slapped with suspensions and fines, particularly Artest.

The Pacers had high hopes of winning a title at the time, believing they were equipped with the right tools to be a championship team. But sadly, one terrible mistake blew it all off.

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