NBA suspends Magic wing Arron Afflalo two games for punching Nemanja Bjelica
Arron Afflalo was involved in an altercation with Timberwolves big man Nemanja Bjelica on Tuesday
The Orlando wing stunned everybody when, following a high foul from Nemanja Bjelica, he threw a haymaker punch in the direaction of Bjelica. The Timberwolves forward said he was so surprised by the punch that he retaliated by putting Afflalo in a headlock in order to stop the fight from continuing.
Nemanja Bjelica & Arron Afflalo Fight: A punch was really thrown in a NBA game! pic.twitter.com/EhJ1GAwbuC— Ballislife.com (@Ballislife) January 17, 2018
Seeing the punch, it's very surprising that Afflalo only received two games for targeting Bjelica's head like that. There was an assumption that the league office could have made an example of the incident with a longer suspension, because of all the altercations happening around the league recently.
Afflalo reportedly apologized to his teammates before practice and addressed the media about the incident. Via Orlando Magic Daily:
Addressing his teammates before practice, coach Frank Vogel said Arron Afflalo was contrite and apologized for letting his teammates down and his actions in the game. It will certainly lead to a suspension and a hefty fine (the NBA has yet to announce any additional disciplinary action).
"It's an unfortunate incident. Just competitive nature," Afflalo said. "An isolated incident. I'm very proud of my teammates. They stayed composed. Through all of that, they put up a great fight. Regardless if the energy was sparked from that. We showed some fight, figuratively, and for me literally. It was a great thing."
It still feels rare to see players throw punches despite the explosion of altercations as of late. Maybe this is the NBA giving players the benefit of the doubt and avoiding long and extensive suspensions. We'll have to see how long that lasts.
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