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There are “NBA fights” and then there are real fights that happen during an NBA game. Tuesday night in Toronto, Robin Lopez and Serge Ibaka had one of the latter. Both Lopez and Ibaka were ejected for throwing punches, and will likely be suspended as well.
Take a look at the fight below.
Replay Review (Game Crew): player altercation in Q3 of #CHIatTOR. Ruling: Fighting technical fouls assessed to Lopez & Ibaka (both ejected). pic.twitter.com/bFIK5awlZc— NBA Official (@NBAOfficial) March 22, 2017
This was a wild one, so let’s break it down.
It begins with Ibaka giving Lopez a little shot to the back after the play here, which you can see at the 0:23 mark of the video above.
Unhappy with the bump from Ibaka, Lopez turns and stares at the Raptors forward, and then decides to smack the ball out of Ibaka’s hands.
At this point, the two big men get right up in each other’s faces, with a referee trying desperately to push them apart. As the ref starts to make some space between them, Ibaka gets his hands right up in Lopez’ face, and mushes him.
As you could guess, this doesn’t sit well with Lopez, and as Ibaka lunges at his face again, Lopez winds up for a haymaker. Luckily for both parties, Ibaka is able to slip it at the last second. If not for Ibaka’s quick reaction, this could have gotten real ugly.
After getting out of the way of Lopez’s punch, Ibaka then unloads on a furious right hand of his own, which actually lands, but only as a glancing blow. Which, again, was probably a good thing for both players.
After this, most of the main action is over. DeMar DeRozan, P.J. Tucker and Norman Powell help save the day, as DeRozan basically tackles Ibaka to the ground, pulling him down head over heels just to get his teammate out of the scrum. Then Tucker wraps up Ibaka and drags him down to the other end of the floor, while Powell helps a Bulls assistant and a ref wrap up Lopez.
This was exciting, no doubt, and one of the first real fights we’ve seen in the league in some time. But it’s actually for the best there’s not much real fighting in the NBA anymore. Intensity is great. Some shoving and exchanging of words? Yeah, that’s fine. But real haymakers being tossed like Tuesday night? That’s not good for anyone.
The possibility for serious injuries, along with the suspensions keeping important players of the floor are just not worth it for the 30 seconds of frantic excitement.