Stephen Jackson was rolling a blunt as he tried to gather his thoughts on the “Malice at the Palace.”
Tuesday marked the 15th anniversary of the most infamous brawl in NBA history, which took place Nov. 19, 2004, during a game between the Indiana Pacers and Detroit Pistons. It resulted in nine players getting suspended for 146 games. Jackson was suspended 30 games and lost $1.7 million in salary for the incident, which included him and Ron Artest taking the fight into the crowd after Artest was hit by a drink thrown by a fan.
“I don’t really think about the brawl until this time of year when it’s all over social media,” he said as he sealed and lit his blunt outside of a recording studio in Santa Monica. “I don’t regret it. I was there for my teammate and it was something I took pride in doing. I just hate the way I got judged. I’m far from a thug. I’m a loyal friend who will always have your back.”
As Jackson spoke, his former teammate Matt Barnes took a seat beside him and lit his own blunt as he reminisced about where he was when he saw Artest and Jackson throwing punches in the crowd.
“I was with the Sacramento Kings and we were playing Memphis and we watched it on TV during halftime of our game,” Barnes said. “We actually started the second half late because we were all in awe. We were watching these dudes fight the fans. It was crazy but I could imagine myself doing some ... like that.”
Barnes and Jackson spoke as they took a break in between shooting episodes of their new video podcast, “All the Smoke,” on the Showtime Basketball YouTube channel. The weekly show debuted last month and continues Thursday with an interview with Clippers sixth man Lou Williams. Barnes and Jackson smoked only during breaks. There was no smoking during taping.
“When we pictured this show, it was us sitting in my movie room, smoking and talking ... ” Barnes said. “I just wanted a conversation. I didn’t want it to be scripted.”
Jackson and Barnes’ conversational style has allowed guests to open up and tell stories they would otherwise keep inside the locker room. Williams, for example, caught himself in the middle of a story he wasn’t sure if he should tell before continuing anyway.
“[Kobe Bryant] is going to be mad at me for this but we got blown out in Portland and he came in the locker room and he said, ‘From now on, every time down the court, I touch the ball. Y’all are going to learn what it’s like to play with Kobe Bean ... Bryant,’” Williams said. “We had just gotten the ... kicked out of us and Kobe wasn’t going for it.”
Bryant is scheduled to be a guest on the show next month and Jackson and Barnes plan to have a mix of celebrities and athletes. Barnes even suggested having Derek Fisher as a guest. The former Lakers teammates got into an altercation when Fisher started dating Barnes’ ex-wife, Gloria Govan, but the two are on better terms now after Fisher and Govan’s engagement last year.
“I wouldn’t mind having Derek Fisher on the show,” Barnes said. “What we went through was well-publicized but for two black men to sit down and squash it the way we did is good. At the end of the day, he’s the stepdad of my kids. Before everything happened, I thought he was a stand-up respectable guy but I squashed it for my kids. Our goal is to raise two amazing boys so I could see us sitting down on the show and talking about that.”
Jackson originally shot down the idea but came around to it with one caveat.
“If my boy don’t have a problem with him I don’t have a problem with him but the second he do, the second it looks like he’s about to say something, I’m whipping Derek Fisher’s ass,” Jackson said. “As of now we’re cool but if he says something, I’m whipping his ass.”
One of the players Jackson has no interest in having on the show is Tony Parker, his former teammate on the San Antonio Spurs.
“I don’t have a reason to talk to Tony Parker and I don’t want to talk to Tony Parker,” Jackson said. “My beef with Tony Parker is a basketball beef. I didn’t like the teammate he was. Tony would look me off on purpose. I don’t want to disrespect him as a man but I had a problem with him on the court.”
The relationship between Jackson and Barnes began in 2007 when Jackson was traded to the Golden State Warriors. The tandem immediately hit it off because of their affinity for weed.
“As soon as I walked in the locker room ... it looked like I just smoked 10 blunts in a row,” Jackson said. “He knew I was a smoker and we hit it off. We’ve been brothers ever since.”
The inspiration for future guests and shows usually comes to both while they smoke and talk about life. On the anniversary of the “Malice at the Palace,” Barnes came up with an idea to have more than one guest in the future.
“You know what would be a good interview and I’ll work to make this happen, let’s get Ron Artest and Ben Wallace to sit down,” Barnes said. “I think that would be amazing.”
Jackson nods in agreement as he lights up another blunt.
“They will,” Jackson said. “They’re both grown and over that ... . Ben and Ron have never talked about it. You’ll have a harder time getting Jermaine [O’Neal] and Ron to talk at this point but let’s do it. Let’s smoke and talk about what happened.”