Who could forget the “Malice at the Palace?” It was one of the darkest days in NBA history as the boundary between fans and players was crossed in the most explosive and dangerous way.
We can look back on it now and be glad that no one was seriously hurt, but it could have been a lot worse. Everyone remembers that it was Ron Artest who first climbed into the stands, but not to be forgotten is that current San Antonio Spurs forward Stephen Jackson was right behind him.
Jackson recently did an interview where he talks about that fateful day. He doesn’t seem too remorseful for what he did. In fact he says he only regrets the fine that came afterwards. Getting to punch fans seems like it was a reward for all the harsh words and animosity he endured over the years.
“When I hit that fan, I definitely enjoyed it — until that fine came down,” Jackson said. “That $3 million I lost killed me. It brought me back to reality because I could have lost my job.
It was wild because it had never been done before. And it will never happen again so, yeah, adrenaline was flowing. How many people can say that they’ve punched a fan?
Do you know all the stuff that they say to us? The racist stuff they say to us? We get the N-word and people talking about our wives and family.
Just because we make a lot of money we’re supposed to be the bigger person? Fans tell us that our kids are ugly and that they should have thrown our mothers in jail for having us. That’s not disrespectful?”
It’s hard not to get sucked into Jackson’s story. Surely you’ve been to a game where some idiot who had too much to drink said something to a player, coach or ref that you couldn’t imagine saying in a million years. I won’t ever condone someone punching another person, or saying he enjoyed it years later, but I can understand.
Jackson has really settled down since his days as one of the Pacers’ bad boys. He usually behaves himself now (at least on the court), but he’ll always have the memories of the time he got to beat up some unruly fans.