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On Nov. 19, 2004, a game was played between the Indiana Pacers and the Detroit Pistons at The Palace of Auburn Hills in Auburn Hills, Mich. The game played out and the Pacers went on to win the game 97-82.
However, this game was different than all the previous NBA games because of the brawl that began just before the game wrapped up. This brawl, which began with only 45.9 seconds left in the game, changed the NBA viewed security and resulted in some of the longest suspensions in professional sports history.
A Pistons player was fouled hard from behind by then Pacer Ron Artest. The Pistons player took exception to the foul, and responded by shoving Artest. This caused a physical altercation between numerous players, and minutes elapsed before the fight was controlled. During “The Malice at the Palace” as it is more commonly known, Artest secluded himself from the melee on the court and went to lie on the scorer’s table while the officials sorted all the happenings out.
While Artest was on the scorer’s table, a fan tossed a cup of Diet Coke at him striking him in the chest. Instead of allowing stadium officials to take care of this situation, Artest charged into the stands and physically confronted who he thought had thrown the drink. For some unexplainable reason, other Pacer teammates followed Artest into the stands, and began fighting with some fans as well. Fans spilled onto the court to escape possible confrontation, and the situation escalated. The outnumbered stadium security attempted to control the crowd, and the final 45.9 seconds of the game were called off and the Pacers were given the victory.
Due to his role in the incident, Artest was suspended for the remainder of the season, which included all playoff games that the Pacers would participate in. Artest, along with nine other players, were suspended or faced legal action as a result of their actions. The suspensions totaled 146 games, with Artest having the greatest amount of 86 games. The 10 players also lost an estimated combined $11 million in salaries, with Artest giving up nearly $5 million.
After this, and to this day, Artest is remembered as the player who started all of this, and carries a bad boy image with him everywhere he goes. Recently, Artest who currently plays for the Los Angeles Lakers, placed a petition to Los Angeles Superior Court to have his name legally changed to Metta World Peace. That’s right, the man who was given the longest suspension in NBA history because of a brawl he started, wants to have World Peace in his name. To me, this is as amusing as a bird with a fear of heights. How could any judge grant this request?
Artest would not be the first athlete to change his name, but would be one of the first to go with this extreme change. One of the best boxers of all time, born Cassius Clay, changed his name to Muhammad Ali, and is known by his changed name to this day. NFL wide receiver Chad Johnson, decided to change his name to Chad Ochocinco, in “honor” of his number 85. Recently, Johnson said that he had gotten all he could out of the Ochocinco thing (finally), never mind that technically it should be “ochenta y cinco.” In both of these instances, the players changed to something that at least contained part of their original name or something that resembled a name. Artest’s change is a bit much. I mean who has the word “World” in their name?
This decision has to go before a judge to officially decide whether or not to validate this change. I would hope that any judge would look at this and immediately realize that this decision is completely absurd and deny it. What would Artest’s jersey have on the back, “Peace?” Would he be referred to as Mr. Peace? The only positive note to Artest’s proposed name change would be that his teammates would be correct when Artest walks off the court and they say, “Peace out.”