NBA games can be very tense, causing players to lose their temper.
It doesn’t happen often, but fights do happen during an NBA game.
A recent battle ensued in the Detroit Pistons vs. Orlando Magic game.
Killian Hayes and Moy Wagner fight with Hayes knocking out Wagner.
Mo Wagner with Killian Hayes. 😳
— The Hoop Central (@TheHoopCentral) December 29, 2022
Some fights had more impact than others.
Below we discuss five fights that changed the NBA.
Five major battles that changed the NBA
Some NBA fights are historic and have been talked about for years and decades.
Below is a list of the top five battles that changed the league.
5. Denver Nuggets vs New York Knicks
This fight took place almost two years after the December 16, 2006 scandal at the palace.
It may not have been the most violent of fights, but the league’s disciplinary action against the participants has effectively removed the feistiness from the sport.
The Knicks were at home and having a blast. They were so upset the Nuggets still had their starters on the floor.
Knicks coach Isiah Thomas said Carmelo Anthony and Marcus Camby shouldn’t have been in the game.
“It’s not a good idea to go to the basket and get too hard on our guys,” Thomas later said.
They bought in Knicks coach Mardy Collins, who fouled JR Smith not too long ago.
Smith stood up and started yelling at Collins. Nate Robinson gets in front of Smith.
Anthony shoved Robinson, who was thrown with Smith, and the two got into a fight that went into the stands.
When things seem calm, Anthony punches Collins.
Jared Jeffries chased Anthony near half court before being hit by a Denver Nuggets player.
After the Palace rant, NBA commissioner David Stern came down hard, suspending seven players for a total of 47 games.
Carmelo Anthony, who led the league in scoring at the time, was suspended for 15 games.
4. Phoenix Suns vs New York Knicks
In the year On March 23, 1993, the Phoenix Suns beat the New York Knicks.
The Suns beat the Kinnicks 121-92.
But a bench-clearing brawl ensued in the game, with 6 offsides and 12 technical fouls.
It all started before the break. It was a battle between Knicks point guard and current Philadelphia 76ers head coach Doc Rivers and Suns point guard Kevin Johnson.
The two exchanged words after Johnson flipped the password he entered.
On the next pass, Rivers hit Johnson and Johnson blew the whistle.
Doc Rivers appeared before the referee and went chest to chest with Johnson.
Benches were cleared but this time it was not out of control.
Well, on the next possession, Rivers charged at Johnson and talked smack.
When the Knicks got the ball back, Rivers went to check on Johnson and Johnson nailed Rivers in the shoulder.
As the half-time buzzer faded, Rivers rose and charged Johnson.
Greg Anthony, who was injured and did not play in the game, came off the bench and exchanged words with Johnson and punched Johnson in the face.
Anthony and Johnson were on the floor with a crowd on top of them.
Then Kicks head coach Pat Riley ripped his pants.
This forced the league to change the rules to increase penalties during fights.
3. Julius Erving vs Larry Bird
In the 1980s, they owned the Philadelphia 76ers and the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference.
From 1980-1987, the Celtics or 76ers represented the East in the NBA Finals.
Julius Erving and Larry Bird were two of the most popular players in the league.
In the year On November 9, 1984, the two biggest stars in the NBA squared off.
It started with an offensive foul called on Bird and he wasn’t happy about it.
Bird stomped down to the square.
Erving was trying to calm Bird down because he seemed to be getting too hot on the referee.
Erving reached out but accidentally got caught by the neck of a bird.
After Erving accidentally grabs him by the neck and a scuffle ensues, Larry becomes enraged.
The two stars exchanged punches. Moses Malone and ML Carr were cast.
The chairs were cleared and a pile of players lined the floor.
A total of 17 players and 76ers coach Billy Cunningham were all fined.
Erving and Bird got the brunt of the penalty. Each was fined $7,500, which was the second largest fine in NBA history at the time.
2. The punch
The world of sports has changed with one punch.
It was December 9, 1977.
The Houston Rockets were taking on the Los Angeles Lakers.
The game took an ugly turn in the first minute of the second half.
The Lakers’ Kermit Washington and the Houston Rockets’ Kevin Kuhnert scramble on a fast break.
The two traded punches. The Lakers’ Kareem Abdul-Jabbar intercepted Kunert.
Watching this fight from a distance, Rockets captain Rudy Tamjanovic charged into the action.
Kermit Washington saw Tamjanovich coming, stopped, turned, planted and Tamjanovich punched him in the face.
The punch was almost fatal.
Tamjanovic was rushed to the hospital and told he would not survive.
He suffered a fractured skull, broken jaw, broken nose, other facial injuries and a spinal fluid leak.
Washington was suspended for 60 days without pay and fined $10,000.
Tamjanović did not agree again that season, but he was able to return the following year.
“You can’t discuss violence in any sport without thinking about what happened between Rudy and Kermit,” said the late David Stern. He continued, “It’s built and focused and will forever imprint on the consciousness of all athletes what can happen.”
1. Evil at the castle
In the year November 19, 2004, will always be remembered for the greatest and most infamous brawl in NBA history.
The game between the Indiana Pacers and the Detroit Pistons was coming to an end before the playoff game started the historic showdown.
Detroit center Ben Wallace tries to negotiate when Ron Artest destroys him with a hard foul.
Wallace shoved Artest, both teams squared off at center court, and the seats emptied.
After Artest sat on the scorer’s table, a fan threw a beer at him and hit Artest.
The Packers player charged into the stands, sparking a frenzied brawl between players and fans who walked from the seats to the court.
“It felt like we were trapped in a gladiator game where the fans were the lions and we were trying to escape with our lives,” Pacers CEO Chuck Person said. “That’s how it felt,” he continued. There is no way out. You had to fight your way through.
There were legitimate implications for players and fans.
The NBA has been reformed regarding security and alcohol sales.
Suspensions totaled 146 games and $10 million in canceled paychecks.
This was a worst-case scenario for the NBA, but it never happened again.