Metta Sandiford-Artest on Russell Westbrook popcorn incident: ‘Felt like I was going to run into the stands’

After initially enjoying NBA playoff basketball, Metta Sandiford-Artest’s emotions shifted abruptly.

The former NBA player not only became upset that a fan dumped popcorn on Washington Wizards guard Russell Westbrook as he walked underneath the entrance tunnel in Wednesday’s eventual playoff loss to the Philadelphia 76ers. Sandiford-Artest admitted his mind wandered back to his involvement in the "Malice at the Palace" nearly 16 ½ years ago.

"I felt like I was going to run into the stands," Sandiford-Artest told USA TODAY Sports on Wednesday night. "It shook me up a little bit."

Then known as Ron Artest, the former Indiana Pacers forward stormed into the Detroit crowd at The Palace of Auburn Hills and punched a fan that challenged a friend to throw his cup of beer at him while he was on the scorer’s table toward the end of a regular-season game on Nov. 19, 2004. Artest then served an 86-game suspension in what marked the longest non-drug related suspension in NBA history.

That’s B.S!!!! This doesn’t sit well. What in the world is that fan doing throwing stuff. This is unacceptable. Wt……!

Not only did that cost Artest about $6 million in salary. Sandiford-Artest said he lost out on potential earnings for an R&B album, two ESPN commercials and commercials with TNT, Carl’s Jr. and L.A. Gear. Incidentally, that shoe company published an ad before the brawl depicting Artest as a cartoon stomping on fans with its new shoe line.

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