In the best revisiting of the single worst incident in NBA history, Jonathan Abrams (Grantland) interviewed as many onlookers and participants from that night.
The images are just as striking almost a decade later. A cup splashes off Ron Artest in the closing moments of a blowout win against the Detroit Pistons. He leaps into the stands at the Palace of Auburn Hills and into sports infamy. Mayhem follows. Players fight fans, fans fight players, a chair is thrown, bottles are tossed — in seconds, the invisible wall that separates athletes and spectators is demolished; the social contract of arena behavior is left in shreds.
“After we calmed down, [Artest] looked at me like, ‘Jack, you think we going to get in trouble?’ Jamaal Tinsley fell out laughing. I said, ‘Are you serious, bro? Trouble? Ron, we’ll be lucky if we have a freaking job.’ That lets me know he wasn’t in his right mind, to ask that question.” —Stephen Jackson