This past Monday, a little old school made a guest appearance on the NBA stage. The Brooklyn Nets were playing the Houston Rockets, when Kevin Garnett head-butted Dwight Howard during the first quarter when Howard had done nothing to really instigate the altercation. Howard, who has unfortunately become the league’s favorite whipping boy, was shoved initially by Garnett even though he had done nothing to warrant the shove. In response, Howard then shoved Garnett in the chest as well, so that he would not perpetuate the fake-tough-guy image that he has acquired over the past few years. Garnett then being Garnett, threw the ball at Howard’s back and went as far as to head-butt him in the mouth. This little scuffle eventually led to Garnett being ejected, and subsequently being suspended, while Howard got a technical foul and a fine.
By no means was this even something that would have resulted in an ejection in the ‘80’s, but it’s the most physicality that the NBA has seen in quite some time. The NBA has cracked down on contact as a whole with its new rules and regulations, but that does not mean that players do not turn into gladiators at times. You don’t make it to the NBA without some pride, machismo, and a competitive spirit, so when another player is trying to intimidate you, the altercation can quickly escalate into something beyond basketball.
The following list is a compilation of some of the worst NBA fights that we have ever seen on a NBA floor.
12 Kobe Bryant vs. Chris Childs
It was the year 2000 and Kobe was still earning his stripes in the NBA. The veterans on the Knicks knew that Kobe was more gifted than they were, but they tested the budding superstar’s mental fortitude with their bully tactics. Chris Childs and the bruising Knicks wanted to see how tough Kobe was with their physicality and cheap shot punches. Childs connected two punches on Kobe as he tried to clown the young and upcoming star. Kobe tried to take get back at him, but he was blocked by two referees,
11 Knicks and Nuggets Brawl
On December 16th, 2006, the Denver Nuggets were at Madison Square Garden playing the New York Knicks. J.R. Smith, who at the time was playing for the Denver Nuggets, went up for a lay-up before he was fouled hard by Mardy Collins. Smith obviously did not appreciate the hard foul and went after Mardy. Nate Robinson who was a Knick at the time, went to defend his teammate Collins by going after Smith. This tag team effort led to both benches clearing and the coaches and referees doing everything that they could to stop the madness. Carmelo Anthony even got a sucker punch in on Collins, which led to the Knicks going after Anthony. When all was said and done, ten players were ejected and seven were suspended
10 Marcus Camby vs. Danny Ferry
Throughout his career, Marcus Camby has never been a dirty player, so when Danny Ferry elbowed Camby in the chest, Camby must have really taken it personally. Even after Camby was restrained from attacking Ferry, he went after him with the intent of getting his shot in. The humorous, yet tragic part about all of this is that Camby swung at Ferry, but hit his own coach Jeff Van Gundy. Van Gundy was trying to protect Camby from himself, but it came at a great cost. Furthermore, even though Camby didn’t connect, he was still suspended for five games.
9 Shawn Bradley Body Slammed
Golden State guard Mark Davis picked up 7’6” Dallas Maverick Shawn Bradley who weighed more than 275 pounds and body slammed him to the floor like it was WrestleMania III. Despite being only 6’7” and weighing only 210 pounds, Davis did his best impersonation of Hulk Hogan when he lifted the giant off the ground and threw him over his shoulder. Davis was subsequently fined $7,500 and suspended for one game.
8 Kermit Washington Punches Rudy Tomjanovich
It was the punch that was heard around the world. “It sounded like a melon that had been dropped on the floor,” said Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. This was the punch that Kermit Washington landed on the eye of Rudy Tomjanovich in December 1977. Washington’s punch changed the course of his own life and Tomjanovich’s. After Washington punched Rudy in the eye, Tomjanovich couldn’t play for another five months and when he did return, he was never the same type of player that he was before. And as far as Washington, the dark cloud over his head never really lifted.
7 Charles Barkley vs. Bill Laimbeer
Who didn’t Charles Barkley and Bill Laimbeer fight when they were in the NBA? Naturally, it was only a matter of time before the two of them would get into their own little scuffle. After Mahorn dunked it on Laimbeer’s teammate, Laimbeer shoved the ball in Mahorn’s face. Naturally, Mahorn didn’t appreciate it and showed his displeasure to Laimbeer. Mahorn was pulled away from Laimbeer by another Piston, but Barkley stepped into Mahorn’s face and the swinging proceeded. Most of the punches didn’t land, as is often the case in NBA fights, but it was definitely one of the more epic battles on the court.
6 Doug Christie Uppercuts Rick Fox
Believe it or not, this was supposed to be a harmless pre-season game, but in actuality it had the intensity and drama of a post-season game. It was obvious that there was no love loss between the Sacramento Kings and the Los Angeles Lakers from their previous post-season battle. Early on during the first quarter, Rick Fox shoved Doug Christie with a little elbow. Christie then threw the ball at Rick Fox in retaliation, which Fox did not appreciate. Fox then put his hands on Christie’s face, which led Christie to uppercut Fox in the chin. The battle, however, did not end on the court, but it also continued in the tunnel where Fox and Christie went at it again. However, this time Shaq got in the mix as well, even though he was dressed in street clothes, and let the Kings know that they were still the Queens.
5 Tree Rollins Bites Danny Ainge
In the 1983 playoffs between the Atlanta Hawks and the Boston Celtics, Tree Rollins gave a running elbow to Danny Ainge as he went back down the court. Without any fear, Ainge went after the big man and tackled him down like he was a NFL linebacker. After Ainge took Rollins down, Rollins grabbed Ainge’s hand and took a bite out of it. In fact, he took a bite so hard that Ainge had to get stitches on his middle finger.
4 Shaq vs. Barkley
Even during the latter years of Charles Barkley, he was never intimidated by anyone, even if that person stood at 7’1” and 350 pounds. Even though they are tv companions today, in November 1999, Shaq and Barkley were hardly buddy-buddy. During the second quarter, Barkley got the ball in the paint and got a little cheap shot by Shaq. Barkley let Shaq know how he felt by throwing the ball at him and even going as far as taking the giant down to the ground while he pummeled him. Obviously, Barkley was not going to win this fight for long, but he got his shots in while he had the opportunity. Both players were eventually suspended and Shaq was fined $10,000 for starting the altercation, while Barkley was fined $5,000 for finishing the altercation.
3 Alonzo Mourning vs. Larry Johnson
In game four of the 1998 playoffs, the Miami Heat and the New York Knicks showed how much they disliked one another when a full out brawl ensued between former teammates Larry Johnson and Alonzo Mourning. Despite being former teammates, Johnson and Mourning never liked one another when they were playing together in Charlotte. The comedy relief from this nasty brawl was the way Jeff Van Gundy was holding on to Mourning’s leg as if that could actually slow him down and stop the fight.
2 Larry Bird vs. Dr. J
Let’s face it, basketball players are not fighters. Most of the fights that take place in the NBA never go beyond pushing and shoving and if a punch is ever thrown, it is rarely ever connected. However, when Dr. J and Larry Bird went at it on November 9th, 1984, Dr. J connected on almost every single shot. It is easy to understand why Dr. J. was so frustrated that evening. Bird was 17-for-23 and had 42 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists, and 2 blocks, while Dr. J was 3-for-13 and only had 6 points, 5 assists, and 3 rebounds. Dr. J was getting torched, so he got even on the other end by throwing haymakers at Bird while his teammate Moses Malone was holding him down.
1 Malice at the Palace
On November 19th, 2004, the worst brawl in NBA history took place at the Palace. And this time, it not only involved players, but it also involved fans. It was late in the fourth quarter when Ben Wallace was fouled hard by Ron Artest as he went up for a layup. Wallace then retaliated and pushed Artest really hard, which led to both benches getting up and exchanging words. But none of these reasons are why the Malice at the Palace will go down as the nastiest fight in NBA history.
During the scuffle, Artest laid down on the scorer’s table and that’s when all hell broke loose. A fan threw a cup of water at Artest and he charged up the stands like a bull out of the gate. This eventually led to other fans getting involved, Pacers getting involved, and Pistons getting involved in what escalated to the most infamous brawl in NBA history.