September 12, 2013
The most recent fight involving Marc Pingris and Kelly Nabong and some other players from the Philippine Basketball Association’s San Mig Coffee and Globalport sent me flashbacks of the past. Particularly those of the NBA, which has its share of brawls, or in this particular case, “basketbrawl.” Of course, fighting in basketball is frowned upon and will never be condoned. It’s a deplorable act that merits huge fines, long suspensions and even bans. So kids, try not to do this and just enjoy the game.
For some though, fighting is a spectacle because it doesn’t only happen rarely, it also shows the worst part of a person. Even the best of them have their shares of fights. Name it, Michael Jordan, the greatest player of all time, can claim some. Reggie Miller have many. Kobe Bryant too. Even LeBron James, the fifth or sixth greatest player of all time, had some flare ups. The great Larry Bird too.
So here we are, reminded of the Pingris-Nabong melee, coming up with six of what I personally think as the worst fights in the NBA starting with…
6. PJ Brown vs Charlie Ward
Before LeBron came and turned the once-heated New York-Miami rivalry into a ghastly friendly affair no thanks to his friendship with Carmelo Anthony, the Knights and the Heat have so much animosity against each other. And it escalated in Game 5 of the 1997 Eastern Conference semifinals when P.J. Brown flipped Ward over into a phalanx of courtside photographers that triggered a brawl. Patrick Ewing, Allan Houston, Larry Johnson and John Starks joined the commotion that resulted to the NBA handing out one-game suspensions spread out over the series’ last two games. The Heat eventually won Games 6 and 7 to complete a dramatic comeback from 1-3 deficit and advance to the Eastern Conference Finals where they were annihilated by His Airness and the Chicago Bulls in five.
5. Larry Johnson vs Alonzo Mourning
The angst-filled New York-Miami rivalry boiled over the next year, particularly in Game Four of the 1998 Eastern Conference first round meeting highlighted by a fight between Mourning and LJ. The two was seen throwing punches but not connecting any (except for that pinch in the face to Charles Oakley, who was trying to stop the action). What’s we remember most from that brawl was former New York coach coach Jeff Van Gundy, now a television analyst, clutching on Mourning’s leg in an unsuccessful attempt to break up the fight. Both players were suspended after it, leading to a Knicks win. Sweet revenge.
4. Bill Laimbeer vs Larry Bird
This list isn’t complete without Bill Laimbeer or the Detroit Pistons in it. Of all his fights, this one against Bird during Game 4 of the 1987 Eastern Conference Finals between the Boston Celtics and Detroit Pistons at the Pontiac Silverdome should be up there. Laimbeer fouled, perhaps maimed, Bird hard leading the latter to unleash two punches at the former’s head. It led to fans throwing ice and beer cups onto the court. They never stopped even as Bird walked back to their locker room. It’s a sad thing there’s no You Tube video of this that still exists. Now I just couldn’t help but wonder how LeBron and the Heat would last against Laimbeer and the Bad Boys.
3. Carmelo Anthony vs. Mardy Collins
This is probably the darkest moment in Melo’s career. As the league’s leading scorer for the Denver Nuggets in 2006, he threw a sucker punch on Knicks’ Mardy Collins, who clothesline tackled J.R. Smith seconds before, sparking the brawl. A total of 47-game suspension were handed out on 10 players including 15 on Melo.
2. Kermit Washington vs Rudy Tomjanovich
Or what is infamously known in the NBA as “The Punch.” With a brawl already going on at centercourt of a 1977 game between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Houston Rockets, LA’s Kermit Washington punched Tomjanovich, who was trying to play peacemaker and trying to pacify everyone being his team’s skipper, on the face, leaving the latter bleeding profusely and unconscious. So ugly was the incident that Tomjanovich needed multiple operations to repair facial fractures. Both were never the same players again when they returned to the court. Tomjanovich, however, won two championships as a coach of the Rockets in the 90s and became famous for uttering this immortal words: “We had non-believers all along the way, and I have one thing to say to those non-believers: Don’t ever underestimate the heart of a champion!”
1. Malice at the Palace
This has got to be the most infamous brawl in the history of the NBA. On November 19 in 2004 near the end of a game between the Indiana Pacers and the Detroit Pistons at The Palace of Auburn Hills, a fight broke between Ron Artest and Ben Wallace after the former hammered the latter in a driving play. Then all hell broke loose as other players joined in while Artest wound up lying on the scorer’s table while putting a pair of headphones at one point. Then fan or fans threw something at Artest, who charged and fought with fans along with teammate Stephen Jackson. The remaining 45 seconds were called off and the Pacers, who led by 15 points at the time, were awarded the win. Indiana players, coaches and team staff members were pelted with beverages and garbage as they ran into the locker rooms. A total of nine players received a whopping 146 games of suspensions while two fans involved in the fracas were banned from attending games in the venue for the rest of their miserable lives. Five Indiana players and five fans were charged with assault and battery. Around $11 million cost players due to fines. Perhaps because of this, Artest ended up changing his name to Metta World Peace.
Follow Sportsmaryosep on Twitter: JoeySVillar