LeBron James' Staples Center debut as a Los Angeles Laker didn't come without drama—and it's not the type of drama NBA commissioner Adam Silver will approve of.
As the Lakers and the Houston Rockets battled in a tight game, emotions ran high. Los Angeles point guard Rajon Rondo and Houston star Chris Paul were at the center of a scuffle that saw punches thrown:
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Paul and Rondo were both ejected, and Lakers forward Brandon Ingram (who received a personal foul and two technical fouls) was also sent off early.
The skirmish began after Ingram fouled Rockets star James Harden on the way to the basket. The referees ruled that Harden would receive two free throws rather than an and-one, which did not sit well with Houston players.
As Harden pleaded his case to the officials, Ingram gave the reigning NBA MVP a hard shove. The two exchanged words but were separated before things escalated any further.
However, Rondo and Paul began jawing with each other nearby. It's not clear what was said, but Paul eventually put his hand in Rondo's face, and the Lakers veteran responded by taking a swing at his opponent.
That scuffle put James in an unusual position. Rondo is his teammate, but James and Paul are both members of the iconic Banana Boat crew, with Paul also serving as godfather to James' oldest son, Bronny. As a result, the four-time NBA MVP did his best to defuse the situation by pulling Paul away from the skirmish.
According to ESPN's Rachel Nichols, Paul was set off by Rondo allegedly spitting in his face:
The league will surely investigate the incident as it explores disciplinary action.
Houston held a one-point lead at the time of the scuffle and ultimately pulled away for a 124-115 victory to notch its first win of the season. James had 24 points, five assists and five rebounds in his first home game at the Staples Center, a loss that dropped the Lakers to 0-2 on the season.