Rajon Rond

USA Today

Lakers-Rockets Brawl

That was LeBron’s home debut. Game 2 of the season.

October 22, 2018 - 10:02 am

The way the NFL works and the way the sports world works, if it happened on Saturday, by the time Monday morning rolls around, it might as well have happened a year ago. Unless Purdue breaks Ohio State’s face and cancels their season: then I’ll talk about it on a Monday. And how did that feel, Buckeye fans? Have to think it was sub-awesome to see the Boilermakers absolutely carve up your crew and see Urban looking like he saw a ghost on the sideline, wondering if it’s time, again, to set his priorities straight and spend some quality time with his family. 

But that’s not what we’re here to talk about. At least not yet. Because there was something so crazy that took place on Saturday night that I can’t not talk about it. And I'm going to need some room, because what happened truly was amazing. And spectacular.

I’m referring to LeBron’s home debut for the Los Angeles Lakers. But more specifically, to the brawl that took place between the Lakers and the Rockets. And normally when I’m referring to a basketball brawl, or a basket-brawl, it’s with air quotes, because it’s usually just a bunch of guys jawing, maybe some chests bumping, and a lot of people being held back. Dudes in the association typically don’t want to go. Which is good, because we’ve know what happens when dudes that big, with no pads or helmets decide to really let their hands go: Faces get broken. And Saturday, dudes wanted to go. While not a full scale riot, as NBA fights go, that was pretty legit. Punches actually landed. And so did a finger jab to the face. Dudes were getting ripped apart and Staples was all in… and all about it. 

Here are a couple of quotes that players gave to The Athletic to give you an idea of what went down:

Carmelo Anthony, Rockets forward: It was bullbleep. Plain and simple. Unacceptable.

JaVale McGee, Lakers center: ‘I didn’t see it personally, but I just saw it like everybody else saw it — on Instagram.’

Mike D’Antoni, Rockets coach: ‘I saw it from a distance, I wasn’t getting into that. I had glasses on. I couldn’t go in there.’

So what the hell happened? The game had been getting chippy and then it went off. With just over four minutes left in the fourth, Houston was up by one when James Harden grabbed a rebound off a LeBron miss and went coast-to-coast. Let’s roll it.

Ingram shoves Harden, for whatever reason, and then argued with an official. He was separated from everyone and things seemed to die down. Except they didn’t. Because while Ingram was up near mid-court Chris Paul and Rajon Rondo were having words. And those words became eye pokes and punches.

Like I said, as association fights go: that was pretty legit: Paul landed a solid finger jab, and ask anyone, that’s absolutely a reason to go: and Rondo, who will and has gone over much less, and landed a pretty clean shot on Paul’s jaw, while Paul tried to counter: again, not for show, Rondo was looking to knock CP3 the hell out. And Paul wasn’t about to let the judges decide this one either, he wanted to end Rondo himself. 

And might have gotten his chance, if fellow banana boater, LeBron didn’t come over and wrap him up: and Melo grabbed Brandon Ingram, who came flying back in, thinking he probably should be the one to finish what he himself started. 

And if it ended it right there, that’s already one of my favorite Laker nights in the last few years, but it didn’t end right there. It wasn’t just on the court. According to The Athletic, CP3 told teammates that his wife and Rondo’s significant other were jawing at each other in the stands as well. 

And for hours, there was a mystery around the league and online? Who started it? Did Chris Paul start it by poking Rajon Rondo in the eye? Or did Rondo spit at CP3? 

The Rockets were adamant about Rondo as a spitter. Rondo and the Lakers denied it.  And for a while, there was no definitive angle that could show spit flying from Rondo’s mouth. 

Conspiracy theories abounded. Did CP3 make it up? Was Melo actually the spitter and accidentally caught CP3 with some friendly fire.

And then it surfaced. An 84-second slow-mo video in high-res that appears to show a liquid of some kind flying from Rondo and hitting CP3. And it makes for fascinating viewing. Don’t get me wrong, someone spitting on someone else is truly disgusting. That is an official reason to go. A universally accepted reason to go. But don’t take my word for it: take Melo’s.

As Melo told The Athletic: You don’t do that. You don’t do that to nobody. In sports, on the streets, that’s blatant disrespectful. That’s unacceptable.

Or PJ Tucker’s: ‘You’re a grown man. If somebody spit on you, it’s crazy. It’s over (at that point). There ain’t nothing else to talk about. Nothing else to talk about. That’s just the ultimate disrespect. Not even swinging (is worse). Spitting on somebody is the ultimate.’

Can’t disagree with that at all. Spitting is the ultimate. And if someone spits on you, there really is nothing else to talk about.

But what’s crazier than the spitting incident and the ensuing fight? How about the Lakers crowd chanting Rondo’s name? Or Lance Stephenson being the peacemaker?

Yes, you heard me. Mr. Born Ready was Mr. Born Peacemaker in that fight. 

But even that wasn’t as crazy as some goofball in a weird outfit on the sideline being ejected from Staples. Oh, wait, I’m being told that goofball in the weird outfit was Anthony Kiedis of the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Sure, why not.

And the only thing better than him getting ejected was the caption of the photo in USA Today that read: ‘Anthony Kiedis, lead singer of the band Red Hot Chili Pepper, is escorted off the floor after he yelled profanities at Houston Rockets guard Chris Paul (not pictured) while he was being lead off the floor after he was ejected from the fourth quarter of the game against the Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center.

Damn right Ant! You let them know that you don’t come into Staples and start something because if you do, the 55-year old lead singer of a mid-90s band will start dropping f bombs.

And now the aftermath: Ingram suspended four games. Rondo three. And CP3 two. Uh, well, that’s interesting. Because if Rondo really did spit on CP3 and it looks like there was some liquid that flew from him to Paul, getting three games is pretty, pretty light. 

Did that game give you enough to talk about? I’d say so. And people, I can’t stress this enough. That was LeBron’s home debut. That was only game 2 of the season and we’ve already reached “55-year old rocker ejected for screaming at All-Star” level of insanity. 

Even if they’re not a playoff team, and considering they’re 0-2 and just lost two starters for multiple games with San Antonio coming up, that’s not the start they were hoping for, but even if they’re not playoff ready, they’re still must see TV: and hell, maybe that was Erv and rob Pellinka’s plan all along. We may not make the playoffs this season, but you‘re not going to be able to take your eyes off this show: and if that WAS the plan, they’re right on schedule. And personally I don’t what the hell I’m going to do waiting for Rondo to come off that suspension. Gonna be the longest three games of my life and I’m not even playing.