Untold: Malice at the Palace creators discuss “important recontextualization” in new documentary

Filmmaker brothers Maclain and Chapman Way told RadioTimes.com why they chose to shine a light on the Pacers-Pistons brawl.

Malice at the Palace

The first instalment of Netflix’s Untold – a docuseries about remarkable stories in the world of sport – arrived on the streamer this week, with Malice at the Palace detailing the infamous Pacers-Pistons NBA brawl of 2004.

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Speaking exclusively to RadioTimes.com, the series’ creators Chapman and Maclain Way explained why they chose to shine a new light on the altercation between the two teams and fans, saying that they wanted to “give audiences a different perspective”.

“I think it’s an event that we personally remember well. It’s one of the rare sports moments that most people of a certain age, even if they’re basketball fans or maybe not basketball fans, can remember where they were and what they were doing when this all happened,” Maclain said.

“It was just so different then how an NBA game normally ends. Just the concept of the game getting cancelled and not even finished was something so outside of the realm of possibility at that time.

“So it’s always lingered in a way, and I think it’s definitely been covered; people have talked about Malice. Talking to Jermaine O’Neil, he made some fascinating points early on in our conversations about how this massive event that’s had a huge traumatic impact on his life has basically been reduced to a YouTube highlight reel that goes viral every year. One time a year, it picks up millions of views and it blows up and people comment and they reach out to ask him about it and he was a little tired about it.”

He added that the documentary’s participants – including Pacers players Stephen Jackson and Metta Sandiford-Artest (formerly known as Ron Artest) – wanted to go beyond “the highlight reel” to show what happened.

“What was exciting for us was as we kind of re-approached this story – we saw that there was a pretty important recontextualization that could be needed on this story. I think that a lot of the blame went to the players and, listen, I don’t think, in our documentary, our players don’t act like they’re blameless; they take a little responsibility. I think everyone takes a little responsibility. I think this was not an event that anyone was necessarily proud to be a part of.

“But a lot of the blame went directly on the players for what they did and I think that we found an energy of talking to these guys and kind of recontextualising a bit and giving audiences a different perspective.”

Chapman added that they were given raw, never-before-seen footage of the match for the documentary. “When it was brought to us and we saw it for the first time, it was a really eye-opening experience.

“To see all the different angles definitely changes your experience of what happened that night inside that arena.”

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Untold: Malice at the Palace is available to stream on Netflix, with the remaining Untold episodes being released weekly. 

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