"The Malice at the Palace," as it was so eloquently named, was a brawl between members of the Detroit Pistons, the Indiana Pacers, and Pistons fans in Auburn Hills, MI back in 2004. Some quick background info: Ron Artest of the Pacers and Ben Wallace of the Pistons had a little shoving match at the end of a play. Once they were separated, a fan threw a cup of Diet Coke at Artest, and Ron-Ron, the NBA's resident badboy, went absolutely ballistic. Artest, along with teammate Stephen Jackson, stormed into the stands throwing punches at fans. The result of this fight was suspensions to multiple players, including a season-long ban for Artest, as well as assault charges filed against both Artest and Jackson. The fans involved in the altercation were suspended from any stadiums or arena's owned by Palace Entertainment for life.
This brawl is one of the rare examples of players entering the stands of an arena. What we learn from this entire event is simple: the NBA players are people too, and if you insult them or trash them, they may fight back. Earlier this year, LeBron James was being verbally assaulted by a fan, so he decided to handle the situation in a much more classier way (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fZ6KRIo4AQA). As you can see in the video, Lebron tells the fan quite simply that he doesn't "give a fuck" what the fan says, as long as he's not disrespectful. Bron Bron goes on to tell the fan that if he's disrespectful, than there is a problem. It was later reported that the fan was making comments about Lebron's mom's supposed relationship with ex-teammate Delonte West.
Artest should take a page out of Lebron's book: you can talk to the person who is instigating a situation, but it is never acceptable to spring into the stands and start an all out brawl. There is no place for player-on-fan violence in the NBA, and we all hope to one day forget "The Malice at the Palace."