Who threw the beer at Malice at the Palace: The untold story of Malice at the Palace

Who threw the beer at Malice at the Palace: The untold story of Malice at the Palace

Kevin Omuya
updated at April 12, 2023 at 8:15 PM

If you have watched the premiere of Netflix's new docuseries Untold, you may be curious about John Green, the man who threw the cup during the historic Pistons-Pacers incident. He was the guy who threw the beer at Malice in the Palace.

who threw the beer Malice at the Palace
The untold story of Malice at the Palace. Photo: @HOMAGE on Instagram
Source: UGC

On November 19, 2004, a brawl broke out between supporters and players during an NBA game between the Indiana Pacers and the Detroit Pistons at the Palace of Auburn Hills. The documentary series Untold: Malice at the Palace recounts every gory detail of the notorious battle that, it claims, escalated when one of the combatants threw a cup. The AP said it was "the most notorious brawl in the history of the NBA."

John Green's Malice at the Palace

According to the documentary, Ron Artest, known by his new name Metta Sandiford-Artest, was struck by a cup thrown by John Green, who has subsequently become well-known in his own right.

“I think John Green precipitated this whole melee,”

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In the documentary series, David Gorcyca, a former Oakland County, Michigan prosecutor, makes a statement. According to the Toledo Blade, Green has admitted to throwing the cup but disputes that he meant to strike Sandiford-Artest with it.

Malice at the Palace's players

untold Malice at the Palace
Stephen Jackson(5) and Jermaine O'Neal (7) during a BIG3 Basketball game on July 9, 2017, at the BOK Center in Tulsa, OK. Photo: David Stacy
Source: Getty Images

Sandiford-Artest, Jermaine O'Neal, Stephen Jackson, and former Piston Ben Wallace were all interviewed for "Untold," as were other significant players engaged in the altercation. Even though he did not play because of a fractured finger, former Pacer Reggie Miller was also interviewed.

The documentary series notes that the now-demolished venue was known as "the Palace," and the atmosphere there was electric leading up to the game. The Pacers had lost to the Pistons there the year before, so they were determined to win and advance to the 2004 NBA Finals.

According to ESPN, the game was called due to an argument with 45.9 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter, giving the Pacers a 97-82 victory over the Pistons.

The docuseries included an excerpt from an interview Green gave to police in 2004, in which Green admits to throwing the cup. Green says in the interview.

“It was really wrong. Those guys should not come up like that into the stands. Especially if they have the wrong guy,”

Artest of Malice at the Palace

Malice at the Palace artest
Ron Artest #93 of the Sacramento Kings stands on the court during the game against the Detroit Pistons at Arco Arena on November 8, 2006, in Sacramento, California. Photo: Jed Jacobsohn
Source: Getty Images

During the incident, Sandiford-Artest was lying on the scorer's table and "taking five," a counting method he had acquired from his therapist to help him relax in high-pressure situations. Green accidentally knocked over the cup.

Sandiford-Artest jumped up after the cup hit him and rushed into the crowd to confront the thrower. Security footage from the docuseries reveals that he collided with another spectator standing close to Green. Docuseries adds that other players invaded the stands and things got out after that.

Green was charged with two counts of violence and assault following the incident: the first for throwing the cup and the second for hitting Sandiford-Artest from behind when she was in the audience. According to The Toledo Blade, Green received a 30-day sentence in 2006 for striking Sandiford-Artest, but the assault and battery charge for hurling the cup was withdrawn. In addition, the judge ordered him to seek counselling for his anger control issues.

The Blade also added the following:

"Green, whose likeness was captured on camera during the altercation, claimed his innocence because he struck Artest to defend himself and his fellow spectators. He further contended that he merely threw the cup into the air with no intent to strike anyone."

Green spoke about the incident in an on-camera interview aired in Untold. An interviewer asks Green.

"Did it bother you at all when Ron Artest flew by you and started attacking the player next to you?"
"Green responds, "I felt relieved. "The only thing I wish I had done differently is to have started a little sooner."


Despite what Green said in the interview, Sandiford-Artest and Green later struck up an odd friendship. IndyStar claims that in a radio interview they gave in 2009, Green and Sandiford-Artest—then known as Metta World Peace—said they became friends when Sandiford-Artest contacted Green on Twitter.

"Green later described Sandiford-Artest as "a good guy" in a radio interview on ESPN Los Angeles in 2012, according to IndyStar. "And you're curious about what? I like to think of myself in the same way. Yes, Ron and I have both made poor decisions, but I believe that we are very similar people. We are very passionate individuals, but we also acknowledge our errors. … We just got talking, and it clicked. He expressed regret, and I did too. It was from him, and doing something like that requires a lot."

Malice at the Palace suspensions

Malice at the Palace suspensions
Jermain O'Neal #7 of Tri-State handles the ball against Killer 3s at TD Garden on August 3, 2018, in Boston, Massachusetts. Photo: Maddie Meyer
Source: Getty Images

Following the altercation, the NBA issued several suspensions. For their roles in the altercation, Artest, Stephen Jackson (30 games), Jermaine O'Neal (15), Wallace, Anthony Johnson, Reggie Miller, Derrick Coleman, Chauncey Billups, and Elden Campbell all got season-long penalties.

The NBA ban handed down to Artest was the league's longest ever. Artest's 86-game suspension for his part in the fight was the longest in the history of the NBA. The remaining 13 were played in the playoffs, where the Pacers progressed to the second round. The Pacers, ironically enough, met the Pistons in the second round and ultimately lost to them in six games.

That profound and epic brawl was started by John Green, the man who threw the beer at Malice in the Palace. As a direct result of the fight, the NBA instituted stricter regulations for its teams, including tighter restrictions on selling alcohol and more security between players and fans. The Untold: Malice in the Palace is now available on Netflix.

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Kevin Omuya
Kevin Omuya is a Content Writer with 4 years of experience who joined Sports Brief in 2022. In 2019 he held a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism & Digital Media from KCA University.