The NBA is a venue for excitement and sometimes emotions can get really high at the point of players breaking. As epic plays and shots are being made, so are the anger-charged encounters between players, between team managers and even fans. Here are some of the most unforgettable brawls that broke out in the history of what is arguably the most watched sport on the planet.
Alonzo Mourning, Larry Johnson and Jeff Van Gundy
While the New York Knicks and Miami Heat provided audiences with epic playoff battles into 90s, a big reason why fans were hooked was the altercations that happened every time these two came face to face with each other. In one game, tough guy Charles Oakley got too busy trying to unhook his coach from Mourning’s ankle that he forgot that he was in a fight. Fortunately, Oakley chose to be on the good side as he tried to save his coach since he could have easily knocked Mourning out cold while he was distracted.
Kevin McHale vs Kurt Rambis
This fight could be one of the dirtiest and most ruthless plays in the history of NBA — and this is why a brawl came out of it. Rambis was running down as fast as he could on a fast break when, all of a sudden, he was hit by a clothesline by McHale. Of course, he did not like what happened got upset off very quickly.
Down on the ground, Rambis got up fuming and then charged at McHale. However, he was held back by a teammate before he could do anything. Only a small brawl erupted, but if things were had not been controlled, this could have gone down even worse.
Chicago Bulls vs New York Knicks
While this was not as brutal as many other brawls in the history of the NBA, this was pretty uncomfortable as it resulted in a written rule that is enforced until this day. In the 1994 playoffs, the Chicago Bulls and the New York Knicks faced off in a fight. Emotions were so high that benches got cleared and a number of players got involved.
What is interesting about this brawl is that it took place just a few rows right in front of then-incumbent commissioner David Stern. Of course, he was not pleased at all. It gave birth to the “Leave the Bench” rule, which states that a player can get suspended for leaving the bench during a skirmish.
Chris Childs vs Kobe Bryant
Kobe Bryant may be one of the greatest players of his generation, but even that does not exempt him from having heated confrontations once in a while. In one game against the New York Knicks, guard Chris Childs got into one of the more memorable fights in the NBA that Kobe fans still watch until today.
The fight escalated when Kobe said something to Childs while he was playing defense and Childs got offended. This led to a shove to a head butt to a hard elbow, before becoming a full blown fight. Childs may not be as monumental as Kobe on the court, be he landed a one-two combo that hit the mark. Both players were able to hold back — and nothing big came off afterward.
Malice in the Palace
While most NBA fights’ rankings are disputed, there is absolutely nothing that can compare to this. Without an inch of doubt, this is definitely the biggest brawl in the history of the NBA and maybe even in professional sports.
This brawl started out when a brief altercation ensued between Ron Artest (now named Metta World Peace) and other players in a game between the Indiana Pacers and the Detroit Pistons. This tension quickly escalated into simultaneous fist fights, until fans also wanted in. Seats turned empty and fans raced onto the court in what was the ugliest fight the sporting industry has seen ever. This resulted in nine players being suspended and five being charged with criminal offenses.
Did your favorite brawl make it to this list? Or is there any other epic fight we missed? Let us know in the comments!