There must be something in the water because this NBA season has featured multiple fights. The sport has long been dominated by fake toughness and “hold-me-back”-ness but this year, punches have been thrown, locker rooms have been entered and people have been subtweeted.
It’s hard to keep track of all of the fights that have happened this year. So, because I am a man of the people and a generally great person, I’ve decided to rank the top five NBA fights of the season.
5. Enes Kanter comes at the King
Less of a fight and more of a beef, this one makes the list because of its star power and high level of comedy. It started in an early-season matchup between the Cavaliers and Knicks when rookie Frank Ntilikina went at LeBron James.
Kanter, never one to go without getting a word in, came to his teammate’s defense and we had a casual little pushing match. (It should be noted that earlier that week, James had proclaimed that the Knicks made a mistake by passing on Dennis Smith Jr.)
FRANK NTILIKINA AND ENES KANTER NOT AFRAID OF LEBRON JAMES
— Def Pen Hoops (@DefPenHoops) November 14, 2017
It was after the game when both Kanter and James talked about the fracas that the real fun began.
And of course, Kanter has not let this go more than three months later, making fun of the Cavs giving up 148 to his former squad:
— Enes Kanter (@Enes_Kanter) January 20, 2018
4. Arron Afflalo swings at a guy
The most random fight of the year involved Arron Afflalo deciding to swing at a dude. What he didn’t realize is that you never swing at an Eastern European dude.
Besides Afflalo’s punching form being let’s say subpar (I’m not judging; I too cannot throw a punch), the target was not going to take anything from him. Nemanja Bjelica actually handled this as perfectly as he could: by putting Afflalo in a headlock.
so Arron Afflalo and Nemanja Bjelica get into a scrap ??? pic.twitter.com/xTfxxmTqMW
— Def Pen Hoops (@DefPenHoops) January 17, 2018
Both players were ejected but only Afflalo was suspended, presumably to teach him a lesson about who he messes with.
3. James Johnson and Serge Ibaka are about that life
If I asked you which NBA players you would be most scared to fight, the top two answers would probably be James Johnson and Serge Ibaka. Johnson, of black belt fame, and Ibaka, of combat muscle fame, got into it in a game between the Raptors and Heat, each throwing one punch before being pulled apart.
Serge Ibaka vs James Johnson ??? pic.twitter.com/F61fY07ZMU
— Def Pen Hoops (@DefPenHoops) January 10, 2018
Fortunately, neither of their punches truly landed because I can’t even imagine the force that would be put into the universe if both Johnson and Ibaka got a hit on each other. Both players were ejected and suspended one game.
2. Kyle Lowry is ready to fight at a moment’s notice
Kyle Lowry is a tough dude. So when a young rookie in Ben Simmons talks to him and gestures like they’re going to meet him in the back after the game, Lowry is all about it.
That’s exactly what happened in the dying moments of a Raptors and Sixers game. After Lowry and Simmons had words on the court, both were ejected. Simmons, who is a naturally soft-spoken person with an emotionless face, pointed to the back and Lowry, seemingly bemused by the idea, SPRINTED to the back.
Ben Simmons and Kyle Lowry heading to the back to chat about Philadelphia? ? pic.twitter.com/b2Sk64HmrL
— Def Pen Hoops (@DefPenHoops) January 15, 2018
Nothing ended up happening because it’s the NBA but we all learned in that moment that Kyle Lowry is about that life.
And of course, the best NBA fight of the season happened on the same exact day.
1. Rockets enter the Clippers’ locker room
Was there any doubt that this would be the top fight of the season?
Virtually everything we know about locker room-gate was deemed to be false after the NBA investigation but facts are for chumps. The actual night when the fight happened was one of the most surreal experiences the NBA has had and of course, social media was bumping with jokes and memes.
Here’s everything that was reported on that night before clarification happened.
1. Austin Rivers talks trash off the bench despite not being dressed. Trevor Ariza gets angry. Blake Griffin gets angrier. Mike D’Antoni gets angriest. Griffin shoves D’Antoni.
2. Chris Paul and Trevor Ariza, both former residents of STAPLES Center, lead James Harden and Gerald Green through a back door to the Clippers locker room. The path was not at all a secret but it was turned into a secret tunnel by Twitter and nothing could have been purer.
3. As the four Rockets goons walk towards the locker room, center Clint Capela walks up to the front door, knocks to create a diversion and promptly has the door closed in his face.
No actual punches were thrown and only Ariza and Green were suspended for escalating the issue but the jokes alone made this the best night of the season.
CORRECTION: Chris Paul hid in a dining cart as Trevor Ariza, wearing a security uniform and fake mustache, wheeled him into the Clippers locker room
— Pablo S. Torre (@PabloTorre) January 16, 2018
Clint Capela career stats
Knocking down shots: 834-1330 (62.7%)
Knocking on doors: 0-1 (0%) pic.twitter.com/7dM60fGnOT
— StatMuse (@statmuse) January 16, 2018
— Blake Griffin (@blakegriffin32) January 16, 2018
Some of these memes and Gifs right now ??….lol I didn’t even play tonight. I was the guy with the boot/cast on haha. ????
— Austin Rivers (@AustinRivers25) January 16, 2018
I feel like I need to do an emergency pod explaining the schematics of the Staples Center locker rooms
— JJ Redick (@JJRedick) January 16, 2018
[EXTREMELY 30 FOR 30 VOICE]
“What if I told you…” pic.twitter.com/uwWf2JIvzF
— Grant Goldberg (@GrantGoldberg) January 16, 2018