A look at the worst fights, punches and cheap shots in NBA history:
With a fight already going on at midcourt of a 1977 game between the Los Angeles Lakers and Houston, the Rockets’ Rudy Tomjanovich ran in to try to play peacemaker. Instead, he got one of the worst shots in sports history _ a right hand from the Lakers‘ Kermit Washington, forever known around the NBA as “The Punch.” Tomjanovich was unconscious and bleeding, eventually needing multiple operations to repair facial fractures. He also suffered a concussion and other serious injuries. Tomjanovich returned the next season, though was never the same player again.
2. Malice at the Palace
The most infamous brawl in NBA history started when Indiana’s Ron Artest _ years before changing his name to Metta World Peace _ fouled Detroit’s Ben Wallace late in a Nov. 19, 2004 game. Wallace shoved back, other players got involved and Artest wound up lying on the scorer’s table. He even put on a pair of headphones at one point, while others on the court continued a battle of mostly words for over a minute. Then a fan threw a beverage on Artest, prompting him and teammate Stephen Jackson to head into the stands. “Someone started trouble,” Artest said years later, “but I ended it.”
3. Andrew Bynum vs. JJ Barea
With the Dallas Mavericks up 98-68 in Game 4 of a 2011 Western Conference playoff series and less than 9 minutes from a sweep of the Los Angeles Lakers, Barea drove down the lane for a layup. While airborne, the 6-foot, 175-pound Barea took a hard, deliberate right-arm shot from the 7-foot, 285-pound Bynum, sending the guard to the floor. Bynum was immediately ejected, and took his jersey off before leaving the court _ getting walked off by Ron Artest.
4. Metta World Peace vs. James Harden
Metta World Peace _ the former Ron Artest _ found himself in yet another controversy on Sunday, a moment that started amid celebration. He had just dunked for the Lakers over Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant and Serge Ibaka and was pounding his chest with his right arm. With James Harden directly next to him, World Peace raised his left elbow over Harden’s shoulder and cleanly hit the Thunder guard in the back of the skull. Harden remained down for about a minute before going to the locker room and did not return to the game. Said World Peace: “I got real emotional and excited.” He called his actions “unfortunate” and “unintentional.”
Carmelo Anthony was the NBA’s leading scorer on Dec. 16, 2006 when he and the Denver Nuggets visited Madison Square Garden to play the New York Knicks. With time running down and the Nuggets comfortably ahead, the Knicks‘ Mardy Collins committed a hard foul against Denver’s J.R. Smith. Several players started pushing and shoving, and Anthony _ who was being held back _ broke free and threw a sucker punch toward Collins, earning a 15-game suspension. In all, 10 players were ejected.
During Game 4 of the 1984 NBA finals, the Los Angeles Lakers‘ Kurt Rambis had a chance for a fast-break layup, with Boston’s Gerald Henderson a step or two in front of him as he neared the basket. Rambis was clotheslined by the Celtics’ Kevin McHale on the play, setting the tone for what became an extremely physical remainder of the finals. “Oh, look out,” is how longtime Lakers announcer Chick Hearn described the play. The Celtics trailed in the series 2-1 at the time of the Rambis-McHale hit. They went on to win the title in seven games, starting with a victory in that pivotal Game 4.
7. Jason Smith vs. Blake Griffin
Earlier this season, in a game between the New Orleans Hornets and Los Angeles Clippers, Griffin, one of the game’s most spectacular dunkers, caught a pass near the top of the 3-point line and was sprinting toward the rim with 4:06 left in the fourth quarter. He never got airborne. Smith lowered his shoulder into Griffin, sending the Clippers‘ star sprawling. Griffin remained down for about 30 seconds, then was clearly groggy when he got to his feet. Smith walked through a courtside seating area to avoid three Clippers who confronted him moments after the hit, then raised his arm to acknowledge cheers from the crowd.View Entire Story
By Andrew P. Napolitano
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