Reconstructive Surgery (Kermit Washington vs Rudy Tomjanovich)
In what will forever be remembered as one of the more gruesome scenes in NBA history, Rudy T and Kermit Washington weren’t involved in a fight as much Tomjanovich was on the loosing end of a one-hitter-quitter that he never saw coming.
Tomjanovich had to get reconstructive surgery on his face following the hit and Kermit Washington was suspended for 26 games. Kermit Washington’s legacy in the NBA will forever be tied to that one punch.
Original Gangster (Bill Laimbeer vs. The 80s)
Bill Laimbeer may be one of the most hated players of all time. The anchor of the Bad Boy Pistons of the late 80’s and early 90’s, it seemed like Laimbeer’s main goal on the court was to antagonize opposing players and ensure that he knocked the hell out of any defenseless player foolish enough to come into the lane looking to score.
More reminiscent of a goon or enforcer in hockey then a typical front line defender, Laimbeer was the perfect fit for the image of the “bad boys” of the NBA at the time. Laimbeer was a basketball gangster who relished the role of being the bad guy.
After initiating and participating in so many brawls we couldn’t pick just one to highlight so we decided to give him a whole section to himself. He definitely deserves it.
Bad Blood (Knicks vs Heat)
Back in the 90’s there were few rivalries more compelling than the one that existed between the Miami Heat and the New York Knicks. The friction stemmed from Pat Riley’s sudden defection from the Knicks to the Heat after the ’94 season. After Riley took his talents to South Beach the hatred from MSG followed him.
The Knicks and Heat met in the ‘98 playoffs and an all out brawl broke out between the two rivals. This fight had everything, haymakers being thrown by Alonzo Mourning and Larry Johnson, benches clearing, and the highlight of his coaching career, Jeff Van Gundy jumping in the middle of the fracas and then having to hold on to Mourning’s leg for dear life.
Pretty Boy Fight (Doug Christie vs Rick Fox)
The Kings were the antithesis of the Lakers back in the day and were the only team in the West that seemed to give the Lakers dynasty teams a legitimate contention for the Western Conference crown (lets be real, we all knew once they got to the finals nobody in the East was going to challenge them).
The Lakers were coming off of an NBA Finals sweep of the New Jersey Nets for their third straight title and were playing their hated rivals at home in a preseason game. A couple of minutes into the contest Christie scrambled after a loose ball that ended up in Fox’s hands. Christie was pressing up against Fox when Fox decided to clear some space with his elbows sending Christie to the ground. Christie didnt take to kindly to that elbow and throws the ball at Fox, and that’s when the night got interesting.
East Coast/West Coast Beef (Chris Childs vs Kobe Bryant)
Chris Childs definitely got his money’s worth in this fight. The Lakers only play the Knicks twice a year due to the fact that they play in different conferences but the way Bryant and Childs went at it you would think they had had problems with each other before.
After enduring some physical play down on the block and a shove from Childs, Kobe gets fed up and goes nose to nose with the Knicks point guard. Childs responds with a head butt, Kobe with an elbow and that’s when the fists start flying.
Malice at the Palace (Ron Artest, Jermaine O'Neal and Stephen Jackson vs The City Of Detroit)
The player former known as Ron Artest was involved in the most infamous brawls in American sports history at the Palace at Auburn Hills. The Pacers had just finished demolishing the Pistons at home, further securing their hold on the Central Division crown just weeks before the end of the season.
With two minutes left in the game and the win firmly in hand the player currently known as Meta World Peace committed a hard foul on Pistons Center Ben Wallace that Wallace took offense to. Wallace pushed MWP and that’s when all hell broke loose.
Brawlin in Madison Square Garden (Carmelo Anthony & J.R. Smith vs The Knicks)
Long before they were the stars of the New York Knicks, Melo and J.R. Smith were involved in one of the funnier brawls in NBA history. Forget that it involved Nate Robinson, the smallest player in the league, but the fact that he held his own against a much taller Smith (why would you try to tackle someone with such a low center of gravity while you’re 6’6 smh) is pretty impressive.
Add that to the scene of Melo open hand slapping Jared Jeffries and then back peddling for dear life and you have the ingredients of one of the most comical altercations in NBA history.
Clothes Lined In The Desert (Raja Bell vs Kobe)
Raja Bell was known as a defensive stopper and Kobe is still the best shot maker in the league. The two had been battling during a heated playoff series when Bell came off the ropes and hit Bryant with a mean clothesline. Bell, angry that Bryant had not been called for elbowing him on a previous play, decided to take matter into his own arms when he purposefully let Kobe get past him and then blindsided him with a clothesline. Some may call that a punk move (I would agree, if you have a problem with him square up like a man) but Bell seemed to be pretty satisfied with himself after the fact.
If you have ever played basketball you know that it can be an emotional game. The trash talk gets flowing along with the adrenaline and the testosterone and you have the ingredients of a powder keg ready to go off. As tensions build between players who are bumping into and saying things to each other that should not be heard on TV, and with no protective helmets or gear between them, an exchange of blows can occur.
In recent years, following blow ups like the Knicks-Nuggets debacle, and of course the time Indiana paid a visit to the Palace Of Auburn Hills, the NBA has made a concerted effort to clean up its image implementing a zero tolerance policy for on court altercations, which has led to fewer dust ups in recent years.
We look at 8 of the craziest and most entertaining fights and brawls in the NBA through the years.