Quick question: when did the NBA turn into the UFC? I knew I’d be talking combat sports in the first hour when I’d be talking UFC 220 with Daniel Cormier, I just didn’t know I’d also be talking combat sports when I talked Magic-T-Wolves in the first segment.
And it’s not just those two, it seems like every game has someone looking to throw. Every game is turning into that Nintendo classic, Mike Tyson’s punch-out.
On Monday, we had Ben Simmons and Kyle Lowry jawing at each other. Then Monday night, you had Blake Griffin and Mike D’Antoni bumping gums during the game, and then a squadron of Rockets taking to secret passageways to rush the Clippers locker room after it. And then yesterday, you had this:
You know it’s gotten wild when two guys nicknamed Aflac and Belly are squaring up. And they really squared up.
It all starts when Afflalo goes to box out Belly after the shot goes up. It gets physical. Afflalo grabs Belly’s jersey and throws a monster haymaker. Technically, not the most fundamentally sound punch I’ve ever seen, but it wasn’t for show; dude had bad intentions and if it does land, belly’s still asleep as we speak. If Afflalo’s fist finds Belly’s skull, you can cancel Christmas. The dude nicknamed Professor Big Shots nearly took a kill shot to his cranium. So in terms of that whole, ‘these dudes really never want to fight’ thing… Afflalo really wanted to fight.
But the punch didn’t land and Afflalo ended up in a belly headlock. And while, I’m not going to go as far as the announcers and say that he was going to break Afflalo’ s neck, dude certainly wasn’t happy.
Again that wasn’t a fake fight nor fake news. That was a legit fight. It just wasn’t a very good fight. But there was no mean mugging there. Afflalo was looking to knock a sucker out.
Belly was asked about it after the game: “We were hitting each other during the game, [on] offense, defense. I don’t want to feel like a victim here. That’s part of the game. He took a swing at me. I was just trying to protect myself, first of all, and to help him, to calm him down, because he was wild. I don’t know what’s wrong with that guy. At that point, if you attack me like that, I have to protect myself and my family.”
I don’t know what’s wrong with that guy or what’s wrong with any guy at this point. Seriously, what’s gotten into the association the last few days? Because it seems like every night, has one or more guys about to snap.
I’m not sure what’s crazier – another day of fighting in the NBA or that T-wolves coach Tom Thibodeau was asked after the game whether he reminded his players not to invade Orlando’s locker room. Tibs said, “The game is emotional. You have to do the right things. We just worry about us.”
That really happened. An NBA coach was asked whether he reminded his players that rushing the opponent’s locker room wasn’t cool. Wasn’t all right.
Don’t get it twisted. I like the fire. I like the passion. There’s nothing worse than watching two teams go through the motions and just mail it in. We’re not throwing down large jack for that. And it’s kind of funny when guys who really don’t want to fight end up mean-mugging and barking like they’re going to fight, when we know they’re not. But I don’t actually want guys throwing haymakers like that. Because at some point, one of them is going to land. And then we’re going to have Kermit Washington and Rudy Tomjanovich all over again. And we all know how that went. I know Rudy does, because he said of that K.O. it felt like the scoreboard fell out of the sky and landed on him. Again, it’s funny for a moment. And while these guys are the most skilled fighters, when dudes this big and this strong are looking to give other dudes the hands, someone’s face is going get to shattered. Or worse.
We need to get to the All-Star break stat. And then everyone hit up a spa, bump some Enya and just chill. Maybe do some meditation or break out the Headspace app. Because if we’ve got locker room raids on a Monday, haymakers on a Tuesday, someone’s going rear naked choke tonight, chasing that with a piled river on Friday, and who knows what goes down Friday… And that’s not good for anyone.