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Craziest Brawls in Recent NBA History

Jesse DorseyFeatured ColumnistDecember 29, 2016

Craziest Brawls in Recent NBA History

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    With the Indiana Pacers and Golden State Warriors getting into a bit of an escalated shoving match Tuesday evening, the memory of basketbrawls past tends to creep up rather easily.

    Sure, the NBA is nothing compared to the NHL when it comes to players fighting, but whenever you've got this much one-on-one action between individuals in a months-long season, tempers are going to flare and altercations are going to escalate beyond just a bit of shoving during the game.

    That's what happened between Roy Hibbert and David Lee as the two played a bit of a rough-and-tumble game, leading to an outburst of mild violence that ended up spilling into the crowd a bit.

    The result was a handful of technical fouls, an ejection, and a cheering crowd. It's all a fun time when people don't get hurt.

    It seems that tempers have flared a bit more often this season than in the past, so let's go ahead and run down the most violent outbursts between players over the past handful of seasons.

An "Average" Fight

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    Generally when you hear about a fight going down in the NBA, it looks a little something like this.

    A couple players — in this instance Kevin Garnett and Carmelo Anthony — start getting under each other's skin here and there, they bump around a bit, play a little bit too rough and they end up bumping chests and eventually jawing at each other from afar.

    KG certainly lived up to his reputation as a habitual trash talking line stepper when he made a remark about Carmelo's wife, which set Melo off and led him to wait for KG at the Celtics bus after the game.

    Nobody gets hurt, a few technical fouls are thrown around, there's some bumping, but the most physicality is on the part of their own teammates to separate the two players.

    Still, Melo was suspended for a game for his behavior.

    The NBA has really cracked down on guys who try to actually engage in a "fight," as throwing punches or elbows is going to land you on the bench for an extended period of time.

    That's why when anything more than this happens these days there's going to be some attention paid, and we're going to end up talking about it the next day.

The Measuring Stick

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    Compare that, of course, to the now-infamous Malice at the Palace and it's night and day. It's like comparing an M1 Abrams Tank to a Red Ryder BB Gun.

    This is the nightmare that was NBA commissioner David Stern's reality back in 2004, as the reigning NBA Champion Detroit Pistons and the Indiana Pacers got into a bit of a scrum at the end of their early-season standoff.

    A tossed beer, a plethora of punches, 146 days of suspension served and millions of dollars in lost salary later, and the league realized that Stern wasn't messing around anymore.

    It was time for the league to clean up its act, and if a player tried to hang onto the old days, an example would be made of him.

    In recent years, punishments have been a bit more lenient for a shove here and a shoulder bump there, as there's no real harm as long as players aren't actively throwing punches. But open up that Pandora's Box by going into the stands and mixing it up with the people paying for tickets and you've activated angry Stern mode.

    The idiom should be changed, because Hell hath no fury like a Stern scorned.

    Here and there an altercation will fall through the cracks, and we'll see multiple players get suspended for a handful of games, and those are the ones that become the most interesting.

5. The Mystery of Zach Randolph and Kendrick Perkins

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    This is one scrum where we'll probably never know the entire story, and I think it's a little bit more intriguing that way.

    As Kendrick Perkins and Zach Randolph were jawing at each other late in a game earlier this season, both were tossed from the game and given a chance to shower a few minutes early.

    Of course, Perkins mysteriously went sprinting into the locker room.

    As confusing as that was, nothing was really made of it until the next day.

    After further sleuthing, it was discovered that Perkins told Randolph that he would meet him by the bus, and the two ended up getting into a scuffle in the hallway outside of the team's locker rooms.

    Police were called in to separate the two and security guards decided that whatever beef they had was worked out, so they decided to let them go.

    In a way it all seems rather civilized. The two were upset with each other, they went to the back to have a bit of a row, and they came out finished with the matter.

    The NBA fined Zach Randolph $25,000 for the dustup after the game.

4. David Lee and Roy Hibbert

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    The most recent doozy came as the Indiana Pacers hosted the Golden State Warriors in a game that wasn't incredibly close, but in which Golden State was never out of it, resulting in some testy play near the end.

    Hibbert and Lee were having a good row back and forth for a few minutes, and it ultimately led to a bit of a brouhaha. 

    Hibbert slammed into Lee as they were both coming back down the court, leading to Lee giving him a bit of a hard foul once he got the ball under the basket.

    Big Roy came at him with a shove, Lee sent his shoulder torpedoing into Hibbert, and the rest was a mix-up of shoving, spear-heading, Steph Curry-tossing, and stumbling clumsily into the crowd.

    In the end, the referees doled out their technicals, Hibbert was ejected and there was no real harm done.

    Both Lee and Hibbert were suspended for their next game.

3. Robert Horry Checks Steve Nash

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    This is perhaps the most notorious fight since the Malice at the Palace went down, and everyone was walking on eggshells for years thereafter.

    With the Phoenix Suns up, and little but the clock stopping them from beating the San Antonio Spurs in the semifinals, Robert Horry went on to do what every team does with the clock winding down, foul the ball-handler.

    Only, instead of going and wrapping up Steve Nash, Horry hockey-checked his body into Nash, causing Nash to go flying into the scorers table.

    Feelings were hurt, words were passed around and shoves were on sale in a two-for-one special as the two teams worked out their outrage and were quickly separated.

    The ensuing suspensions were a bit more of a problem, leaving the Suns without two of their best big men, Boris Diaw and Amar'e Stoudemire, both of whom left the bench during the scrum and were therefore suspended for a game.

    San Antonio, only without Horry for the next two games, went on to finish the Suns off 4-2 and win the 2007 NBA Championship.

2. Rajon Rondo Shoves Kris Humphries

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    This is easily the most prominent "fight" of the past few years.

    Kevin Garnett and Kris Humphries were getting into it throughout the game earlier this season.

    On the play that caused the kerfuffle, Humphries was guarding Garnett and put a body into him. Garnett hit the deck (and whether it was a flop or not is up for debate) and Rajon Rondo took offense.

    You know what they say, if you're a six-foot tall guard and some enormous dude kind of fouls your equally enormous teammate slightly harder than necessary, you better go about shoving him six rows into the crowd.

    It was about as serious as the NBA has allowed a modern-day brawl to get, which should tell you just how much more control they have over the players.   

    Humphries was shoved into the crowd, the players rushed over to help out and before the thing could escalate too much more, there were a dozen other guys running over to pull them apart.

    Aside from Rondo shoving Humphries into the crowd, who was in return removed of his jersey, Gerald Wallace added a bit of heat to the situation as he came in doing a little more than trying to break things up.

    Rondo was suspended by the league for two games for his part. Wallace was handed a $35,000 fine for escalating the altercation and Garnett received a $25,000 penalty for his involvement. Humphries was not punished by the league for the incident.


1. Metta's Elbow

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    While it might not be considered a brawl when you take into account the short amount of time in which the altercation happened, and the few players who were involved, no physical meeting between two players has left more carnage on the court in years.

    With just a few games left to finish out the season and the Oklahoma City Thunder and Los Angeles Lakers coasting into playoff spots, Metta World Peace went and pulled a Ron Artest moment out of his bag of tricks.

    He threw down a dunk, celebrated a bit and James Harden stood his ground as Metta was skipping past. Metta took offense to the bump, reared back and threw a vicious elbow directly at Harden's neck.

    World Peace squared off with Serge Ibaka for a split second before they were promptly separated by the befuddled players on either team.

    Artest tried to make an excuse, but the replay didn't lie and he was given the run from the game, and suspended for the next seven as well.

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