LeBron James played his first home game as a Los Angeles Laker on Saturday, but things got a little punchy at his coronation. The Houston Rockets were in town, and a fourth-quarter scuffle turned into an honest-to-gosh fistfight. Real punches were thrown, which is somewhat of a rarity in the modern NBA, and LeBron had to play pacifier as his new teammates squared up against some old banana boat friends.
The donnybrook started late in the fourth quarter when Brandon Ingram shoved James Harden after being called for a foul on the Rockets star. Chris Paul and Rajon Rondo got in each other’s faces during the “peacemaking” process, and each player threw a few punches. Ingram, who had been pulled to half court to cool down, reentered the fray and registered a punch of his own. Rondo, Paul, and Ingram were ejected and will all likely face suspensions.
The Rockets won the actual game, 124-115, but who won the fight?
Chris Paul. The Rockets point guard has a reputation as an ornery pest, and his poke to the face of Rondo will only make things worse.
Rajon Rondo. Rockets players and coaches claim Paul was simply retaliating after Rondo had spit in his face. According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, “Lakers officials” dispute this accusation. Either way, the damage is done. Once you’re accused of being a spitter, it sticks.
LeBron James. His party was ruined! He also spent most of the fight calming and consoling his close friend Chris Paul, which is pretty funny considering that, just one game ago, a mic’d up James told his new Laker teammates, “Any time you fall … your brother will come pick you up.”
Brandon Ingram. Ingram may have earned some imagined tough-guy bona fides for being involved, but his desperate Go Go Gadget swing at Paul from the Kuiper belt was more amusing than anything else.
James Harden. His flops are going to get someone killed.
Anthony Kiedis. According to a USA Today photo caption, the Red Hot Chili Peppers frontman had to be “escorted off the floor after he yelled profanities at … Paul” during the fight. There is no footage of Kiedis’ alleged verbal assault, but I assume it sounded like this.*
Lonzo Ball. Ball was criticized last year for not getting his teammate’s back during a scuffle, and no one will mistake him for Batman after seeing his light jog in the general direction of Saturday’s action.
Mike Breen. ESPN’s normally great play-by-play man didn’t exactly let the moment breathe.
“OH, PUNCHES ARE THROWN! PAUL AND RONDO, THROWING PUNCHES! INGRAM COMES IN, HE’S THROWING PUNCHES!”
Calm down, dude. You’re going to get Anthony Kiedis riled up.
The 2018-2019 NBA season. Just two games in, and we already have a whiny fistfight. Things are going to look like Fury Road by the All-Star break.
This post originally misspelled Anthony Kiedis’ last name.