Draymond Green has developed a reputation for being one of the NBA’s top instigators throughout his career with the Golden State Warriors. During a game against the Minnesota Timberwolves last week, Green ended a scuffle with opposing center Rudy Gobert by placing him in a chokehold at midcourt. The move cost Green $769, 970 in lost pay from a five-game suspension.
Green has now been suspended five times in his career. In 2023, he was suspended for a playoff game after stepping on Sacramento Kings forward Domantas Sabonis. While not quite as pronounced as with professional hockey, the NBA has been known throughout its history to feature more than its fair share of on-court brawls.
These fights cause chaotic moments. Because fans are so close to the action, they have sometimes been pulled into the fights. While the league always severely punishes those involved, having athletes with tempers flaring will make sure fights will always pop up here and there.
Fighting is punished severely by the league office. The NBA has a rule in place where anyone who comes off the bench to join a fight gets an automatic suspension.
No Such Thing as a Peacemaker
Black sports news shows that one punch Kermit Washington threw on Dec. 9, 1977, ended his career. Washington was playing for the Los Angeles Lakers at the time. A scuffle would break out following Washington’s battle with Houston’s Kevin Kunnert over a loose ball.
Washington and Kunnert would keep their spat going beyond when possession was decided. Washington grabbed Kunnert’s shorts after, which prevented Kunnert from getting back up the floor on offense. Kunnert threw an elbow at Washington.
Stories differ on what happened next. Washington and Kunnert would scuffle, and Washington threw a punch that dropped Kunnert to one knee. Houston’s Rudy Tomjanovich came running over to the developing brawl to try and break it up. Washington, thinking Tomjanovich was coming to join the fight, threw a short right hand that connected hard.
Tomjanovich immediately dropped to the floor, and a pool of blood would form alongside him. Tomjanovich suffered a skull fracture and had the bone structure of his face detached from his skull. Washington would be fined $10,000 and suspended for 60 days and missed 26 games.
Malice Tears up Detroit’s Palace
Having fans close to the basketball court is great for the atmosphere. But having so many people within inches of a bizarre brawl caused major problems at Detroit’s home court, the Palace at Auburn Hills. On Nov. 19, 2004, all hell broke loose. At the end of a lopsided Pistons’ loss to the Pacers, Indiana forward Ron Artest fouled out.
Instead of just heading to the bench, Artest laid on the scorer’s table. This action upset a fan, who heaved a beer from the stands and hit Artest. Artest was enraged by the act and ran into the stands to try and find whoever threw the cup. What ensued was a brawl that severely impacted the future of the Indiana Pacers.
Several of Artest’s teammates would follow him into the stands to try and restrain him. Once Artest threw a few punches at fans, and they retaliated, several of Artest’s teammates also traded punches with fans. People in the arena in Detroit threw chairs and other objects on the court before order was restored.
Artest would be suspended for the rest of the season and lose $4.9 million in fines. Stephen Jackson would also be suspended for 30 games, losing $1.7 million in fines, while Jermaine O’Neal would have to sit out for 15 games and pay $4.1 million in fines. The suspension derailed a great Pacers team from competing for a championship.
Jeff Van Gundy Goes for a Ride
Anyone who ever wonders how fighting a professional athlete may go for them should always be reminded of a 1998 brawl during the New York Knicks and Miami Heat match in the NBA playoffs. Knicks coach Jeff Van Gundy was desperate to try and break up a fight with his team.
Van Gundy would end up holding onto Miami Heat center Alonzo Mourning’s leg and being dragged on the ground like a toddler with his parents. Van Gundy, who is significantly smaller than Mourning, was trying to help separate Mourning from Knicks forward Larry Johnson.
Van Gundy stepped in to try and grab Mourning and ended up holding onto his leg. Mourning and Johnson would ultimately be suspended for two games apiece. Sports news today shows New York ultimately won the series in five games.
Pride Starts Wild Brawl
Many fights in sports start because of people violating unwritten rules. There are different rules for each sport, and players and coaches think any of them being violated is a major sign of disrespect. In 2006, the Knicks felt like the Denver Nuggets needed a reminder of what those rules are.
The Nuggets were up big in a November game and New York felt Denver’s stars should be out. However, Denver’s stars remained on the court. New York coach Isaiah Thomas then employed some tactics from his bad boy days with the Pistons of the late 1980s.
Thomas subbed in Mardy Collins, who committed a flagrant foul on JR Smith. Collins hauled Smith down by the neck as he attacked the rim. The foul and ensuing arguments ended up with multiple players scuffling all over the floor. Carmelo Anthony knocked down a member of the Knicks with a punch. Jared Jeffries then chased Anthony around until another Denver player stepped in to tackle Jeffries and protect Anthony.
The incident outraged NBA commissioner David Stern, who was still feeling the impact of the Malice at the Palace. Stern would end up suspending seven players for 47 games. Anthony would take the brunt of the suspension, having to sit for 15 games, according to the latest NBA news.
For all the latest MLB, NBA, NFL, and Soccer News, stay up to date on BlackSportsDigest.