After Artest: The NBA and the Assault on Blackness
On November 19, 2004, a fight between Ron Artest and Ben Wallace escalated into a melee involving several members of the Indiana Pacers and many Pistons fans. Before the last punch was thrown and the final cup of beer was dumped on a player’s head, the alarms had been sounded concerning not only what this incident meant for the future of the league, but the problems symbolized and/or embodied by this fight – the influx of selfish, bling-bling, hip-hop, thug ball players. Highlighting the league’s blackness, the Palace Brawl resulted in transformation of NBA policy regarding the governance of black bodies. Negating the two-decade long project of David Stern, the Palace Brawl belied the popular narrative, dominated by the figure of Michael Jordan, in which race within the NBA was seen as insignificant. The Palace Brawl was the culmination of the recoloring of the NBA.
Dr. Leonard looks at the Artest brawl and the transformation that have occurred since 2004. Instead of focusing solely on the court, he examines the ways in which racial ideologies, dominant white racial frames and racializing culture wars infect not only the discursive