AUBURN HILLS, Mich. -- Iron grates had long since come down over the beer concession stands Tuesday night by the time the Detroit Pistons' defeated their opponent, the Boston Celtics, and made their way toward the narrow tunnel leading to the visitors' locker room.
Much as they did a year ago, fans positioned themselves as close as they could to the players being shoehorned toward the exit. But unlike a year ago, they were being closely watched by a security contingent on the lookout for troublemakers.
What's more, this time the fans behaved. Nothing was thrown, no popcorn, no beer, no soda, no insults, no punches. Nobody crossed the invisible line, not the players, not the fans.
Just a normal night in the NBA.
But a similarly ordinary evening that instantly turned chaotic a year earlier -- a night that would become the defining moment of the 2004-05 season -- was still on a lot of people's minds.
One little trigger, and bedlam could erupt.