The NBA has come a long way from the days when Dr. J slugged Bird while Charles Barkley held Larry’s arms behind his back. That level of intensity in pro hoops brawls promptly disappeared after Ron “World Peace” Artest started a near-riot at the Palace in Auburn Hills back in 2004.
These days, it’s rare to see actual punches thrown in NBA contests, but it still happens. Instigators like Thunder reserve Steve Adams and Warriors center Andrew Bogut front the list of usual suspects when teams are brawling out west. In other cases, stars like LeBron James and Blake Griffin tend to have a bulls-eye on their backs when teams want to make a statement. If they act, the respective team’s enforcers will tangle. Here are five brawls that prompted ejections and/or suspensions in the 2013-2014 NBA season.
5. Golden State vs. Portland: November 23, 2013
Bogut has a way of tangling arms in the hunt for rebounds that annoys opposing players to no end. In this Oakland fracas from November 2013, Bogut had wrapped up Joel Freeland at the boards and then sent an elbow flying the Trail Blazer’s way. LaMarcus Aldridge did not like that move and came hurtling into the scene for an altercation with Bogut. Meanwhile, Jermaine O’Neal was not in uniform but prolonged the brawl by putting Mo Williams in a chokehold. Mo Williams and Bogut ended up with suspensions for the incident while three other players were fined.
4. L.A. Clippers vs. Phoenix Suns: March 10, 2014
Blake Griffin and P.J. Tucker of the Suns tangled for a rebound but ended up in a pile on the floor. Tucker communicated his dissatisfaction with the situation by throwing a right cross to Griffin’s face while they were on the ground. It was a quick strike that infuriated Griffin, but beyond the mini-scuffle there were no more punches thrown. For his shot, Tucker received a one-game suspension from league officials.
3. Clippers vs. Thunder: November 13, 2013
If Blake Griffin is a regular target, Matt Barnes is the Clippers enforcer who has no problem with ejections and suspensions coming to the star’s defense. In this contest, Serge Ibaka and Griffin got into a rebound tangle, prompting Ibaka to detach himself from Griffin with some force. By the time Barnes, picks up the play, it looked like Ibaka is on the offensive. Barnes shoves Ibaka and the Thunder center balls his fist for battle. After some generic shoving, Ibaka and Barnes were both ejected.
2. Warriors vs. Clippers: December 25, 2013
Back to Bogut. The Warriors center did his tangling act on Blake Griffin in this instance, which turned out to be an especially testy meeting between the two Western Conference teams. Let’s just say they didn’t exchange Christmas cards after the December 25 game. Griffin has already been assessed a technical foul by the time he went at it with Bogut, so he was ejected after the altercation.
In that respect, Bogut’s play was a smart stategical move in the fourth quarter of a tie game. The Thunder’s Steve Adams has a similar way of getting under a player’s skin and prompting violent acts that usually lead to ejection. By the time this L.A.-Golden State contest ended, Bogut had infuriated the entire Clippers team. He and Chris Paul were wrestling over the ball even after the whistle blew, which sparked bonus post-game action on Christmas Day.
1. Suns vs. Lakers (Nick Young): January 15, 2014
Nick Young may be listed at 6-foot-7, but the Lakers guard looked like the smallest player on the court when he decided to take on the Phoenix Suns team for a scuffle January 15. It begins with a flagrant foul by center Alex Len, escalates when Marcus Morris gets involved, then ends when Young takes a shot at Goran Dragic for wearing a Suns uniform.
One could suggest it was that kind of year for the Lakers. Young was a bright spot for the team and showed plenty of passion when he went after the Suns team pell-mell as Lakers teammates stood by and watched. He was suspended one game for his swipe at Dragic, while Morris was assessed a $25,000 fine for his part. Len took a $15,000 fine for his flagrant foul.