On August 10, Netflix released the first of a five-part documentary series revolving around the untold stories of major sports events. With their first installment, the streaming service focused on quite possibly the grimmest moment in Detroit Pistons history, the ‘Malice at the Palace‘.
One of the executive producers is former Indiana Pacers player Jermaine O’Neal, so be prepared for a lot of Pacers reaction in this.
The Nov. 19, 2004 brawl in the early days of the NBA season is well known amongst Detroit sports fans and all basketball fans alike. But when two of the league’s grittiest teams in the Pistons and the Indiana Pacers matched up on this fateful night, no one expected what would unfold.
The Pacers were on course to defeat Detroit in blowout fashion in the season’s first matchup between the Central Division rivals. Late in the game Pacers forward Ron Artest (now known as Metta Sandiford-Artest,) committed a hard foul against Pistons center Ben Wallace, as the four-time defensive player of the year drove into the lane for a layup.
Wallace took exception to the foul, as the game was as good as over at that point. Wallace retaliated with a hard shove on Artest.
A skirmish quickly developed on the court and, through all the commotion, a fan threw a drink from the stands onto Artest who was laying on the scorers’ table. In that moment, what would have just been a skirmish on the court between two rival teams exploded into a brawl between players and fans.
Untold: Malice at the Palace has a runtime of an hour and nine minutes. While the story of the Malice at the Palace is no secret to anyone (you can watch the actual incident on YouTube), director Floyd Russ shifts the perspective mainly towards the Pacers players involved in the melee. Pacers players Artest, Jermaine O’Neal, Stephen Jackson, and Reggie Miller receive the majority of screen time with their interviews.
Along with the Pacers players, Wallace, Oakland County Prosecutor David Gorcyca, and many others involved in the brawl, and the ensuing legal cases. share their stories.
Like many Netflix documentaries nowadays, Untold is a mixed bag of really good content along with unnecessary padding to extend the runtime.
The documentary does a great job of telling the story from perspectives most fans have not heard yet, but it also misses out on many opportunities to add context in favor of focusing on the relationships between the Pacers’ stars.