After Tuesday night’s scuffle between Robin Lopez and Serge Ibaka (punches were actually thrown!), I woke up to a text from a good friend who was yearning for the days of true fights in the NBA. “They gotta bring brawls back to the NBA,” this friend said. Is it true, I thought? Has the Association been lacking some grown-man fisticuffs? After all, weren’t Stephen Curry and Russell Westbrook ready to throw down in primetime just this week?
Well, apparently not. After some extensive YouTube research, I quickly realized the 2016–17 season has been filled with violent episodes. Here are the best "fights" of the NBA season... so far.
Enes Kanter vs. Chair
I mean, who saw this one coming? Kanter broke his forearm thanks to the efforts of Chair, who stood (sat?) firm in the face of Kanter’s onslaught. Chair has refused interviews ever since the incident, fueling rumors of a tell-all book or documentary of some sort once his career finally ends 20 years from now. Or when his cushion gets replaced. Whatever comes first.
DeAndre Jordan vs. Nikola Jokic
DeAndre Jordan, a man of great stature who could catch me off a lob and dunk me through a hula hoop, hit Nikola Jokic with one of the cutest punches I’ve ever seen. Like, was he definitely aiming for that one specific part of Jokic’s elbow? I’ve never seen a punch with such precision before. What was unique about this dust-up is that absolutely no one reacted in the immediate aftermath. Even Jordan just walked away as if someone else turned the ball over out of bounds. And does Jokic even know he’s been punched? This is less of a brawl and more of an unsolved mystery.
Buddy Hield vs. DeMarcus Cousins
Here’s Buddy Hield getting his hands, uh, caught, uh, in the, uh, cookie jar. Did Hield really think no one was going to notice him violating DeMarcus Cousins? The upward swipe to the groin was one thing. The Donald Trump-esque grab was completely ridiculous. Cousins’s face is also remarkable here, as we all get to see his thought process in slow motion. Hey, what? Owwwwwww. At least Hield didn’t go full Nic Batum.
James Johnson vs. Atlanta Hawks
So James Johnson is a little bit of a crazy man and there is a reason why Heat fans call him “Bloodsport.” But what makes this fight even more memorable is that it all could have been avoided if Hassan Whiteside didn’t mildly overreact to the situation. I’m not saying Whiteside wasn’t the victim of a hard foul, but if he didn’t lay on the floor like a chalk outline of his own murder, maybe Johnson wouldn’t have felt the need to come flying in hot.
Nikola Mirotic vs. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson
The most shocking fight of the NBA season wasn’t a fight, it was a soap opera. In late December, we found out that Rondae Hollis-Jefferson is in fact the older brother of Nikola Mirotic. How else would you explain the expert level in which Hollis-Jefferson plays keep away from Mirotic? Like any younger brother, Mirotic just wants the ball. Like any older brother, Hollis-Jefferson manages to keep it away with a perfectly nonplussed look on his face. And as in most cases, the older brother won this one easily.