The Weirdest Brawls in Sports
If you are like me, brawls are one of your favorite things about sports. Especially when they come at the most unexpected times.
Everyone expects hockey brawls. It's the knock-down, drag-out fights that happen on the court, the race track, the practice arena or even in the stands that really get our blood pumping.
Sometimes, the average grind of a sports game can be a bit monotonous, and there's nothing like a hay-maker here and there to get us interested again. Plus, it's always fun to see which athletes are the true warriors who won't back away from a punk threatening to throw a punch and which athletes are, well, the punks.
Anyone can act like a tough guy with their pads/helmets/teammates as armor, but what happens when they're left to their own devices?
Generally, something really, really funny or something really, really embarrassing. Here are some of them.
Dishonorable Mention: Patrick Kane vs. Cab Driver
Patrick Kane has reformed himself, or so we hear. But back during his darker days, this is what he used to get into when he wasn't on the ice.
The Blackhawks star was arrested one night in August 2009 following a night of debauchery that ended with a well-documented fight with a cab driver. Legend (and the New York Daily News) states that Kaner and his cousin became enraged because their cab driver in Buffalo, N.Y., didn't have 20 cents in change to offer them.
Kane, according to the Daily News, was charged with felony robbery and misdemeanor after attacking the driver, leaving him with cuts to his face and a crushed pair of glasses.
Over 20 cents.
19. Candace Parker vs. Plenette Pierson
A "dustup" is one way to describe this fight. An unprecedented, full-on WNBA brawl is another.
Coincidentally, this one also took place at The Palace at Auburn Hills, home of the most infamous brawl in sports history. This one, however, didn't involve Ron Artest and fans throwing beverages. This one primarily involved Candace Parker and Plenette Pierson.
With 4.6 seconds remaining in an eventual Sparks victory, Parker and Pierson got involved in a bit of a skirmish before several of their teammates jumped into the action, tossing punches and engaging in an all-out brawl.
Not only were the ensuing suspensions so enormous that they had to be staggered by alphabetical order, but Detroit's Cheryl Ford—in an effort to restrain Pierson—tore a knee ligament and would miss the rest of the season.
18. Lakers Practice Brawl
No, this isn't a secret brawl that took place between Dwight Howard and Kobe Bryant last season. It was just a good old practice brawl between DJ Mbenga and Chris Mihm.
In 2008, while the big names—including Bryant, Pau Gasol, Derek Fisher and coach Phil Jackson—were all in Phoenix for the All-Star Game, the rest of the Lakers hung back for practice during the break. Obviously, they all should have gone on vacation because they needed a break from each other.
The skirmish began when Mbenga went up for a jumper and Mihm fouled him. They got in each others' faces and a shoving match ensued until they were restrained by teammates. An enraged Mbenga continued to scream at his teammate before being forcibly dragged out of the gym.
Way to make Phil proud while he's away, guys.
17. Bill Laimbeer vs. Isiah Thomas
At least Mbenga and Mihm managed to avoid letting things escalate to this.
Getting into it with your own teammate is one thing. Getting into it to such a degree that one of you ends up with a broken bone is entirely different.
In 1993, Isiah Thomas was already feeling a bit sensitive because he was just recovering from a cracked rib. So when Bill Laimbeer got a bit overly aggressive during practice, he didn't take well to it.
In fact, he got so angry that he attacked Laimbeer from behind, punching him in the back of his head and thus fracturing his hand.
Though the rib injury was no longer an issue, Thomas was expected to miss four to six weeks with his brand new injury induced by Laimbeer's skull.
Let this be a lesson to all: At least if you're going to brawl, save it for the real thing. Practice-brawl injuries are embarrassing.
16. Sean Thornton vs. Matt Cooke
Seeing Sean Thornton drop the gloves is nothing new for anyone who's ever watched him play. Seeing Matt Cooke have to fear for his life on a daily basis is nothing new, either; that's what happens when your primary claim to fame is leveling cheap shots and illegal hits upon your opponents.
This one, however, was different. This was the infamous Revenge Game, Penguins vs. Bruins. In this one, Cooke really had something to worry about because this matchup came just 11 days after Cooke had destroyed Bruins center Marc Savard with an elbow to the head, effectively ending the Bruin's career.
Cooke wasn't penalized for the hit, but he would be by Thornton when the two met again.
And it certainly didn't take long. Literally the second Cooke skated onto the ice for his first shift against the Bruins, less than two minutes into the first period, Thornton pummeled him with all of the rage and angst that comes with watching one of your teammates crumble to the ice for the last time.
Cooke, who had to be expecting it, couldn't really do anything except wait for the abuse. The best part of this fight, however, is the commentary. Listen and enjoy.
15. Jeff Gordon vs. Clint Bowyer's Pit Crew
Brawls between race-car drivers don't happen all that often, so when they do, it's big news.
The four-time Series champion provoked a skirmish with Clint Bowyer in the garage area at Phoenix International in November 2012 because he wrecked Bowyer on the second-to-last lap out of retaliation.
What makes this fight so great is the fact that it wasn't only Bowyer who was ready to destroy Gordon—his entire pit crew was ready to get in on the action as well.
After Gordon steered his car into the garage, the pit crew pounced on him. By the time Bowyer could make his way over to the madness, he couldn't even get in on it because he was being held back.
You have to love it. Kevin Harvick, who won the race amidst the drama, sure did. He told the AP, "We should have more fights. I like fights."
14. Lakewood Blueclaws vs. Greenville Drive
It's not hard to see why minor leaguers may feel compelled to engage in a brawl every once in a while. All those hours spent driving around on buses, waiting to get called up, wondering if it will ever happen…it has to result in some pent-up frustration.
Naturally, those frustrations boil over when there's a close play at the plate.
In September 2010, Greenville's Derrick Gibson attempted to come around with the tying run in Game 2 of the South Atlantic League Championship Series, but he was thrown out at the plate.
Blueclaws pitcher Julio Rodriguez, who was back covering home, didn't like something Gibson had said upon being thrown out, and the two got into a little bit of a shoving match that very quickly escalated into a benches-clearing brawl.
The best part is Gibson—the instigator—never even had a single punch thrown at him. In the midst of the chaos, Rodriguez started punching the wrong guy, and Gibson was able to inch his way further and further from the mob to escape without a scratch.
13. Penguins vs. Islanders
Any time you get beaten 9-3, and the sport is hockey, you're going to be mad.
There was already bad blood between the Penguins and the Islanders in 2011—and what do you know! Matt Cooke played a starring role in this fracas.
A little over a week before this epic brawl (above) took place, these two teams squared off in a matchup that involved several questionable hits.
New York's Blake Comeau absorbed one from Pittsburgh's Maxime Talbot that left him with a concussion, and later in the game, Pens goalie Brent Johnson skated the length of the ice to engage in a fight with his Islanders counterpart.
So tensions were running high when they met again a week later.
The Islanders took a 6-0 lead early in the second period, and after Johnson was pulled, all hell broke loose. Talbot—who leveled that nasty hit against Comeau the game prior—got jumped by Matt Martin, which provoked three more simultaneous fights.
All six of the players who were involved got ejected, but still, the madness wasn't over. In the third period, Pittsburgh's Eric Tangradi was the victim of an elbow to the head; he left the game, and meanwhile, Micheal Haley engaged in fights with pretty much everyone who was left on the ice.
In the aftermath, only 12 players combined from both teams didn't receive penalties or suspensions.
12. Danica Patrick vs. Milka Duno
The only thing better than an average Indy Car brawl is an Indy Car brawl that involves two females.
Danica has long been the female star of the show in the sport, and maybe Milka Duno was tired of her getting all of the attention, but whatever the case, tensions boiled over in July 2008 during a practice run for the Honda Indy 200.
Danica didn't like Duno's slow pace during the practice run and decided to confront her about it. Duno wasn't having it. There wasn't any physical contact, but the two of them engaged in an epic war of words that, according to Yahoo!, featured Danica repeatedly asking, "Are you just slow?"
When she couldn't take any more, Duno tried to whip Danica in the face with her towel. She didn't succeed, and finally, the two were separated, but still—anytime there's a cat fight that involves towel-whipping as the primary form of aggression, it is awesome.
11. Dodgers vs. Padres
Everyone remembers this, if only for the excellent commentary provided by Vin Scully.
Baseball brawls always end poorly for someone, especially when they involve the pitcher. Whoever is at the plate gets a lengthy head start, and the pitcher can't do much else beside cower and wait for the end to come.
When Dodgers hurler Zack Greinke hit San Diego's Carlos Quentin in April of this year—something, by the way, that had happened twice in years past—Quentin decided enough was enough.
'He charged the mound with stunning speed, and Greinke, in an attempt to shield himself, lowered his shoulder, which would prove to be a poor decision. When all was said and done in the best benches-clearing brawl of the season thus far, he was left with a broken collarbone.
Neither he nor Quentin, however, was the real star of this show. One of the stars, of course, was Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp, who charged the mound and repeatedly, after the brawl had ended, attempted to reengage by bellowing obscenities and riling his teammates.
And the other star was legendary broadcaster Vin Scully, who helped to narrate Kemp's tirades with epic statements such as, "That's fertilizer, says Kemp, over and over! That. Is. Fertilizer!"
10. Alonzo Mourning vs. Larry Johnson
Even when they were teammates, it's fair to say that Alonzo Mourning and Larry Johnson weren't big fans of one another. From 1992-95, the two top-tier draft picks both played for the Hornets, but they were never friends, especially after Mourning's unsuccessful contract negotiations with Charlotte got him traded.
Mourning wanted $13 million per year, but the Hornets were only willing to pay him $11.2 million, which meant he got shipped out of town to Miami. Johnson never forgave him for letting his selfishness dismantle what could have been a viable title contender.
As expected, every time Johnson and Mourning met on the court in the ensuing years, there was trouble—but never more trouble than there was in 1998, when Mourning's Heat met Johnson's Knicks in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals.
In Game 4, Mourning thought Johnson was getting too physical and, naturally, attempted to punch him. Accompanied by their teammates, they continued to slap at each other until Jeff Van Gundy ended things by iconically attaching himself to Mourning's leg and physically pulling him away.
9. Knicks vs. Nuggets
It wasn't quite Malice at the Palace, but it came close. Sort of.
It occurred in 2006, in the midst of a regular-season game between the New York Knicks and the Denver Nuggets. In the waning seconds of an eventual blowout win by the Nuggets, the Knicks' Mardy Collins was issued a flagrant foul against J.R. Smith. That was all it took for the melee to begin.
Wee little Nate Robinson started to get into it with Smith and tried to punch him, but Smith tackled him first, and they spilled into the courtside photographer bay before being pulled apart.
Carmelo Anthony, however, wasn't quite willing to let it go yet. He sucker-punched Collins in the face then ran away to hide behind the bench before Jared Jeffries and Robinson could get him, forever and indelibly altering his image.
The brawl—which resulted in a total of 47 single-game suspensions—still stands as the most-penalized fight since Malice at the Palace.
8. Buddy Ryan vs. Kevin Gilbride
On rare occasions, you may see two teammates fight with each other. But it's incredibly uncommon to see two coaches go at in on the sideline.
When you hear that one of those coaches was Buddy Ryan, though, it becomes a bit more understandable.
The former Oilers coach, and father of Rex and Rob Ryan, made perhaps his biggest headline ever in 1994, when he fought his own offensive coordinator on the sideline during a nationally televised game against the New York Jets.
Ryan had reportedly been unhappy for a long time with Gilbride's run-and-shoot scheme, but the tensions boiled over against New York, when Gilbride called a pass play and the quarterback subsequently fumbled the snap.
Ryan started yelling at Gilbride, who didn't take lightly to being blamed for the mistake and yelled back. The two stalked toward one another before Ryan finally punched his poor offensive coordinator in the jaw.
Eventually, the two were separated by their bewildered players.
7. The U vs. FIU
Football brawls don't happen all that much, period. There's already so much pushing and shoving and tackling that there's not much time or energy left over for actual fighting.
Unless you're talking about Miami and crosstown rival FIU.
The most infamous fight in college football history occurred in October 2006 at the Orange Bowl. It has been suggested that the bad blood stemmed from the fact that the two schools are in such close proximity to each other—nine miles, to be exact—and the fact that many players on each team had spent their high school years warring against one another.
In this third quarter of a game in which the tensions were already running remarkably high, Miami's James Bryant made things worse by taunting FIU after catching a touchdown pass, earning himself an unsportsmanlike conduct flag.
Then, on the extra point attempt, FIU's Chris Smith appeared to punch Miami holder Matt Perelli in the chin before FIU's Marshall McDuffie Jr. apparently kicked the holder in the head.
A full-on bench-clearing brawl ensued, resulting in a whopping 13 15-yard penalties and ejections.
6. Saints vs. Texans
Nobody is supposed to care about the NFL preseason.
Why, then, were emotions running high enough between the New Orleans Saints and the Houston Texans during the 2009 preseason practice—not even a game, a practice—that a brawl took place?
Not one, but two fights occurred during what was supposed to be a friendly training-camp session between the two teams that year, but the headliner occurred between New Orleans' Jeremy Shockey and Houston's DeMeco Ryans.
After going up for an incomplete pass, the two scuffled and then engaged in a full-on brawl that provoked an eventual dog pile.
Afterward, Saints safety Darren Sharper told The Times-Picayune:
I haven't seen this many fights in my whole career. … We've got a lot of testosterone and built up a lot of anger. No, this is the most fights I've seen at training camp in my career.
5. Tree Rollins vs. Danny Ainge
Who knew that anyone would take so much offense to being called a sissy?
In the midst of the 1983 Eastern Conference Finals, which pitted the Boston Celtics against the Atlanta Hawks, Tree Rollins took so much offense to being called a sissy by Danny Ainge that he elbowed Ainge in the face.
Ainge, of course, was unhappy and escalated the fight by tackling Rollins. As the two writhed around on the parquet floor, Tree finally ended things with an unorthodox knockout move: biting Ainge's middle finger and saddling him with a wound that required stitches.
The Celtics, however, got the last laugh when they won the series.
And not to rub salt in the wound, but…is there anything that's more of a sissy move than biting during a fight?
4. Nolan Ryan vs. Robin Ventura
Nolan Ryan threw hard. Thus, it wasn't much fun to get hit by one of his pitches.
Robin Ventura experienced this firsthand in August 1993, when the future Hall of Famer plunked him in the back. As such, he did what anyone would do upon receiving a 100-mph fastball to the back: he charged the mound.
Despite the fact that Ventura was only 26 and Ryan was 46, Ryan handily won the fight, getting Ventura in a headlock and pummeling him six times before Pudge Rodriguez finally stepped in to provide some mercy.
Even more embarrassing for Ventura was the fact that he was suspended while Ryan was allowed to stick around and pitch a near-flawless game.
3. New York Rangers vs. Boston Bruins
Hockey fights can be pretty bad. They don't always involve a fan getting hit—with his own shoe—by a player.
Infamously ill-tempered former Bruins defenseman Mike Milbury was the ringleader in one of the NHL's most memorable brawls ever. And there have been plenty of brawls, so that's saying something.
After the Bruins beat the Rangers 4-3, Boston's Al Secord got things started by punching New York's Ulf Nilsson. As the players started going after each other, legend states that 30-year-old fan John Kaptain reached over the glass and hit Bruin Stan Jonathan with a rolled-up program, drawing blood.
That's when the Bruins—including Terry O'Reilly and Milbury—began to climb over the glass. Two of them cornered Kaptain, and here's what ensued, as told by Milbury to The New York Times:
I grabbed his shoe, took a little tug on it, and then sort of double pumped. I don’t know if I hesitated for a minute because I thought I’d be vilified for the next 30 years, but I gave him a cuff across the leg, and then I did what I thought was probably the most egregious thing of all: I threw his shoe on the ice. … People were throwing some serious shots down below us that were obscured by the fact that everybody was focusing on the idiot highest up in the stands hitting somebody with a shoe.
2. Pedro Martinez vs. Don Zimmer
It's not every day that you see a sprightly ace pitcher deck a senior citizen.
The Red Sox were playing the Yankees in Game 3 of the ALCS, and with a trip to the World Series on the line, tensions were running high. There is never any love lost between the two AL East superpowers, but this year—with both teams putting everything they had out there—the bad blood ran particularly thick.
So when Pedro Martinez hit Karim Garcia with a pitch, intentionally or unintentionally, the benches were ready to clear. It didn't happen, however, until Roger Clemens took the mound and…well, didn't really come close to hitting Manny Ramirez, but Manny was ready to get the ball rolling, anyway.
Manny made his way to the mound, screaming obscenities, the benches cleared and Zimmer headed right for Pedro, who threw the aging bench coach to the ground.
1. Malice at the Palace
This year's Belmont Stakes winner was truly deserving of the honor if only because his name so closely resembled the greatest brawl in sports history.
The date was Nov. 19, 2004. The location was the Palace of Auburn Hills. The offenders were the Pistons and the Pacers, who entangled themselves in a brawl so intense that it earned nine players a total of 146 game suspensions, translating to $11 million in lost salary.
It began when, with less than a minute remaining in the game, Ben Wallace took a hard foul from Ron Artest. A shoving match ensued. Most members of both teams gathered at mid-court while Artest went to lay down on the scorer's table and was subsequently hit with a beverage thrown by a fan.
Artest then charged into the stands, grabbing a man who was, in fact, not the guy who had thrown the beverage, and then all hell broke loose. Watch and enjoy.