The brawl on the plane two weeks ago between Grizzlies Tony Allen and O.J. Mayo got us thinking about fisticuffs. Fights have always a reality in sports, since competition is high and the blood runs hot.
This list shows that basketball can hold its own when it comes to brawls on and off the court. From the 1972 NCAA games to NBA playoff games in the 2000s, fights in basketball have been a part of the game and here are the top six most insane brawls in basketball history.
1. NCAA Minnesota Gophers vs Ohio Buckeyes – 1972
With only 36 seconds left in the 1972 NCAA game, Ohio State center Luke Witte was fouled and fell to the ground. What happened afterwards can be seen at 0:22 of the clip.
Corky Taylor of the Minnesota Gophers helps Witte to his feet, and in the process, knees him in the groin, sending him back to the ground. Both teams and some spectators begin an all-out brawl on the court. The fight is considered to be the most disturbing displays of bad sportsmanship in the NCAA basketball world to this day.
Later in the fight, Dave Merchant of the Buckeyes’ jersey was ripped off by more than one Minnesota player, simply because he was trying to protect Witte who was still on the ground, getting his head stomped on by the opposing team.
2) Ron Artest fights with fan
Though these days Artest is celebrated for his charity work, not too long ago he was considered notorious for starting fights. This memorable brawl took place on November 19, 2004.
With 49 seconds left in a Pistons-Pacers game in Auburn Hills, Michigan, a brawl broke out between the teams. As officials broke up the fight, a fan threw a Diet Coke at Ron Artest.
Artest brought the fight over from the court to the stands. Nine players were suspended without pay for a combined total of 146 games and a $10 million salary loss.
There were 5 players charged with assault and sentenced to one-year of probation and community service.
3) Kermit Washington punches Rudy Tomjanovich
Video (around the 1:55 mark)
In December in 1977, during a game between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Houston Rockets, a fight broke out between Lakers player Kermit Washington and Rockets player Rudy Tomjanovich. It’s considered by some to be the worst cheap shot in NBA history.
Washington pummeled Tomjanovich of the Rockets square in the face in the middle of a team on team brawl. You can see the punch at 1:55 of the video.
Not only did Tomjanovich require facial reconstruction surgery, but the Lakers also paid a $2 million settlement. Washington was suspended from play for 60 days and fined $10,000.
“What happened? Did the scoreboard fall on me?” – Tomjanovich
4) Larry Johnson and Alonzo Mourning – 1998
During game four of the 1998 NBA playoffs, tensions ran high between the Miami Heat and the New York Knicks. A brawl broke out between Larry Johnson of the Knicks, and Alonzo Mourning of the Heat.
While the brawl is a prime example of fighting in the NBA, the real story here is Jeff Van Gundy. While Johnson and Mourning were going at it, Gundy tried to get into the middle of the two players and got caught amongst the feet of the much taller players.
Gundy grabbed onto the leg of a Miami Heat player like he was clinging for dear life. The footage of Gundy being shuffled and thrown among the legs of players is remarkable.
5) Shaq vs Brad Miller – 2002
Brad Miller and Charles Barkley fouled Shaq as he was trying to get a shot in at a Lakers-Bulls game on January 12, 2002.
As soon as Shaq gets fouled, you can see his fist wind up and let loose on Miller’s face. The fight spilled out into the crowd of photographers and spectators behind the net and continued viciously for at least a couple more minutes. Shaq is huge and hard to stop. I mean, what are you going to do? He’s Kazaam. At one point, there are three capable men trying to hold him back and he just keeps barreling forwards.
Even Ron Artest got himself into the middle of the scuffle.
6) Shawn Bradley gets body slammed
Shawn Bradley, a German native, stands seven foot, six inches tall and weighs in at 275 lbs. He is famous for his stature and ability to block shots for the 76ers, the Mavericks, and the New Jersey Nets throughout the 90s and the early 2000s.
In a game against the Indiana Pacers, Shawn Bradley exchanges words with Mark Davis, who, standing at six feet, seven inches and weighing 210 lbs, is a full foot shorter and 65 lbs lighter than Bradley.
Davis proceeds to pick Bradley up, throw him over his shoulder, and body-slam him to the ground. This ‘fight’ is on the list simply because watching a man one foot shorter and 70 lbs lighter body-slam Shawn Bradley, is a sight to see.