Tensions Run High as NBA Altercations Escalate

Multiple physical incidents prompt ejections and suspensions league-wide

 

Copyright Jacob Gonzales

Copyright Jacob Gonzales

What a wild week it has been in the NBA, quite literally. Tensions clearly ran high across the entire league this week as fans bore witness to unsavory NBA behavior similar to past unbecoming incidents like the infamous “Malice in the Palace” melee.

To kick off this week’s fury-fueled iteration of the NBA, the faceoff between the Toronto Raptors and Philadelphia 76’ers saw Raptors’ point guard Kyle Lowry and 76’ers forward Ben Simmons engage in a heated verbal exchange—only to be promptly ejected. Simmons then motioned with his arm, seemingly pointing to the tunnel—a gesture that many speculated was a suggestion for Lowry to meet him back there for continued confrontation. Despite the invitation, nothing occurred after the ejections and Philly took the game 117-111.

“I won’t play around,” Simmons said of the altercation. “I’m not going to take no s— from anybody,” as reported via ESPN on Instagram.

Just a day later, superstar point guard Chris Paul was reunited with his former team in a match between his Houston Rockets and the Los Angeles Clippers in the so-called “City of Angels.” Things started fine—pleasantly even, as Paul was actually received with a standing ovation. However, things eventually turned sour as Clippers’ forward Blake Griffin benefitted from a no-call after an apparent goaltend. As he came back up the court he nudged Rockets’ head coach Mike D’Antoni with an elbow, sending the coach into a rage. Words were fired, and the rest of the game unfolded with a palpable air of discontent. Subsequently, Rockets’ forward Trevor Ariza ultimately ripped Griffin’s tights and multiple hard fouls occurred thereafter. When the dust settled, the Clippers claimed the victory 113-102.

When asked what he had said to Griffin, D’Antoni responded “you mean after he hit me? Just that I didn’t appreciate him. But other than that, it’s good,” as reported by the New York Times.

The real predicament plainly happened after the game in a scenario reminiscent of the “Trojan Horse” scheme implemented by the Greeks during the Trojan War. The Rockets used a back door in an attempt to confront the Clippers in their own locker room while Rockets’ center Clint Capela knocked on the front door as a diversion. Reportedly, Paul and Rockets’ shooting guard James Harden were trying to calm down their teammates—mainly Ariza and shooting guard Gerald Green, in an attempt to deflate the situation, but to no avail, Both Ariza and Green have been suspended two games due to the incident.  Somewhat surprisingly, punishments were not doled out to anyone else involved.

In the Minnesota Timberwolves contest against the Orlando Magic, things also got heated as multiple plays between Timberwolves’ forward Nemanja Bjelica and Magic shooting guard Arron Afflalo escalated to an all-out skirmish. At first, Afflalo was visibly upset after being slightly shoved by Bjelica as he attempted to crash the rim for an offensive rebound. He responded with a haymaker of a right arm swing that narrowly missed Bjelica’s face. In order to “protect himself,” as has been reported, Bjelica subsequently put Afflalo in a devastating headlock, a power play leveraging the significant size he has over Afflalo. This prompted both teams and the referees alike to get involved in attempts to separate the players and diffuse the situation. Once detached, both players were ejected and the Magic ended up conjuring up a win of 108-102. Adding more insult to injury, Afflalo has since been suspended two games for the altercation.

“I was just trying to protect myself and to help him, to calm him down,” Bjelica said in reflection of the rumble as cited by FOX Sports.

But the week had yet more wrangling in store.  Most recently in the game between the Charlotte Hornets and Washington Wizards, point guards for the opposing teams Michael Carter-Williams and Tim Frazier were both ejected after the Hornet saw fit to scream in Wizards’ center Jason Smith’s face after a hard boxout. Frazier tried to evade the referee’s attempts to hold him back in his efforts to get to Carter-Williams. Due to the ferocity of each players’ actions, both were ejected. In the end, the Hornets severely stung the Wizards with a final score of 133-109.

With all of the animosity that has been on display throughout the NBA this past week, one has to wonder what is prompting the sudden change in players’ attitudes and actions.  Perhaps it’s underlying resentment relating to NBA all-star snubs or maybe it’s just bad behavior, plain and simple. No matter the impetus, while these antics can demonstrate the heart, passion and intensity that drives the league, the hardwood is functioning more like a UFC octagon of late and, in my opinion, to the game’s detriment. A solid dose of anger management infused with coping strategies and rage redirection methods would surely do the NBA some good. My hat’s off to those players who do aptly rise to the occasion by keeping their emotions in perspective and their actions in check. Now that’s winning.

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Mason Kern, Host of ‘The Sports Watchdog’ Radio Show on KFNX 1100 Phoenix (also available globally in podcast form), spotlights newsworthy current events and happenings in the world of professional and college sports as well as notable sports and fitness gadgets and gear. Mason also frequently appears as a sportscasting guest on various TV and other radio programs, including Good Morning Arizona, KUSI-TV San Diego, NBC Sports Radio Phoenix and more. View his TV segment clips online at www.tinyurl.com/TTWVideos. Reach Mason on Twitter @ASportsWatchdog, on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/SportsWatchdog and on LinkedIn at www.tinyurl.com/TTW-Linkedin.

 

 

 

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Mason Kern
Multi-platform sports broadcaster and journalist Mason Kern is Host of "The Sports Watchdog' Radio Show" that airs on KDUS AM 1060, which is an NBC Sports Radio affiliate in Phoenix—a station serving all of metro Phoenix (top-ranked as the #14 U.S. radio market). On this fun and fast-paced program Mason spotlights newsworthy current events and happenings in the world of professional and college sports. This includes hot topic headlines; interviews with powerhouse guests like NBA All-Star and basketball Hall-of-Famer Dominique Wilkins and NFL Hall of Famers Shawne Merriman and Aeneas Williams; and spotlights on notable gadgets and gear suited for sports and fitness enthusiasts. Mason also serves as a Sportscaster, Commentator and Host for various other radio, TV and online media outlets across the U.S. This currently includes delivering live sportscasts on AZTV7’s ‘The Arizona Daily Mix’ show, as well as prior live appearances with Good Morning Arizona, ABC13 Las Vegas, multiple KUSI-TV San Diego (as a member of their sportscasting team) and other shows where he’s delivered insightful pro and collegiate sports reports. Before that Mason was a regular correspondent with The CW’s “San Diego Living” show where, in addition to providing analysis on pro and collegiate athletics, he's also showcased sports and fitness product innovations in his own monthly Sports Watchdog-branded segments. In addition to hosing his own "The Sports Watchdog" Radio Show on the NBC affiliate KDUS Sports Radio AM 1060 in Phoenix as well as co-hosting the “Buckets & Dingers” sports podcast, Mason is also a frequent radio guest delivering current event-based sports commentary, with recurring interviews with the “Sports Hangover” Show as their “Phoenix Suns insider,” which also airs on KDUS Sports Radio Phoenix, among others. Past The Sports Watchdog Radio Show interviewees have included a wide array of NFL, NBA and MLB Hall of Famers and other noteworthy sports stars and industry power players. Other of Mason’s career interviews have featured ESPYs-related one-on-one standup interviews with legendary skateboarder Tony Hawk, 2017 ESPY-winning snowboarder Anna Gasser, Dallas Mavericks point guard Seth Curry, FOX Sports analyst Matt Leinart, Denver Broncos linebacker Brandon Marshall, the “Naughty by Nature” rap group, boxer Andre Berto, and many others.