A Redditor has come forward with a very lengthy telling of how he came to possess the most famous souvenir cup in the history of souvenir cups. The story is told in absurd detail (full gallery of the cup here), and we have no way of knowing if it’s 100% true. As Trey Kirby of The Basketball Jones points out, the cup does resemble the one that nailed Artest, thus sparking the Malice at the Palace. However, as Trey also points out, it’s not as if it was the only 2004 NBA Champions Pistons cup in the stands that night. Regardless, it’s a fun story, and one we’re really hoping is true:
It was 3 days before my 20th birthday. What better a gift than a Pistons game that was bound to be a tug of war rematch of the previous year’s titanic Eastern Conference Finals. Myself, my girlfriend, and my best friend from college had scored amazing seats, in section 115, row CC. Three rows behind the Detroit bench. It was heaven (In a twist of fate, I’ve sat in that exact row now 4 times since then..). The game itself was a slight disappointment, for a victory wouldve been an excellent early present. I remember Rasheed and Darvin Ham had a particular great game. I despised the Pacers, but respected them utmost. Hell, I was and to this day an enormous Artest/World Peace fan. I think he would’ve made one hell of a Piston in fact.
Fast forward to the moments after The Shove. The Detroit bench was surprisingly hostile, and I remember clearly Elden Campbell heightening the situation by making crying sounds, trying to entice Artest or whomever. It was strange, considering I always thought of him as a gentle giant. Anyways, Artest starts to calm down and decides to lay upon the scorers table, about 25 feet from myself and my company. Both benches are standing and shouting at one another. It was getting pretty damn grim. My girlfriend and I were panning the audience, the little that had remained, and everyone’s look was that of worry and clairvoyance, as if we all knew that things were going to come to a head. As I was looking to the left of me, one section over and maybe 6 rows back, I witness very obviously a man in blue Pistons garb throw his drink toward the court.(This man has since been identified as John Green). The timing, and aim, couldn’t have been more devastating. My girlfriend had seen him toss the cup the exact same time I did. What happens next is one giant cacophony of regret and shame on the part of the mob-mentality fans and players. When Artest started to lunge upon the fans, I recall Rick Mahorn, who was doing the local TV play by play, leap out of his seat and go after Artest and pulled fans away. Mind you this was all occurring no more than 30 feet from us. All the meanwhile the security had hardly any control of the situation, and fans were already entering the court. The entire time, I never took my eyes off the Cup. It was repeatedly kicked and swatted, with no one as much thinking to jump upon it. At one time, when Jermaine ONeal had just slide-punched one fan, he was being restrained by Johnathan Bender and other teammates. During this melee, one of them had managed to kick it (along with many other things that were thrown upon the court) clear across the court and right in front of Larry Brown, who at this time was trying to comfort his son whom was the ball boy.
Fast forward to about 4 minutes after the players had left for the locker rooms. Mason, the announcer, and other police/security guards were demanding we all leave in a calm fashion as quickly as possible. I had to retrieve that Cup. I had in my mind the idea that if I myself were to get it, I would be pepper sprayed or some sort of force would be taken upon me. So, being the kind hearted gentleman I am, I asked my girlfriend to lunge for it. She obliged immediately, and simply walked down to the court and picked it up. At this point, security was not within 100 feet of us, and the Cup itself was still laying where it had been for a good 10 minutes. She picks it up, still with traces of liquid in it, which was not alcohol but definitely a soda of some sort. She hands it to me, I tell her to place it in her purse. The three of us leave with gusto.
Now it resides at my father’s home. No markings of the chaos, no real authenticity of the event. Just the story that can be vouched by other people, and just maybe video somewhere out there. To this day I refuse to watch footage of the Malice. Just thinking about it makes my eyes well up, I get a lump in my throat and I am overcome with remorse. A lot of things changed that night, most for the better, but the images and stories I ponder from that night will live with me forever, as will this mundane yet infamous article of NBA history.