Basketball tournaments are a common occurrence in the NBA today. However, when you’re among players on the same team, that becomes an even more unusual sight. They usually take place behind closed doors, away from the prying eyes of the common fan, but they can be rough.
Just recently, the battle between Draymond Green and Jordan Poole of the Golden State Warriors dominated NBA headlines. And when Green took time off from the team, the fight left his future with the team up in the air. But there is more to revisit in NBA history.
Bobby Portis vs. Nikola Mirotic – Chicago Bulls 2017-18
Entering the 2017-18 season, Portis and Mirotic were competing for the starting power forward spot for the Chicago Bulls. The competition was heated throughout the camp as the two forwards vied for playing time for years. Things reached a boiling point on Oct. 17 when Mirotic charged at Portis twice before Portis punched him in the face. Mirotic suffered a facial fracture and concussion, sitting out the first 23 games of the season and Portis was suspended for the first eight.
As a result of the fight, Mirotic was traded to New Orleans less than a year later. Although the Portis apologized publicly and privately, their relationship with the court never recovered.
Portis, looking back on the Mirotic altercation, said: “I’m sorry for what happened. We tried to be professional, let things work on the court. We did that. Off the court, we never talked. We played cards (on the plane) once. It was kind of embarrassing. So we didn’t play anymore.”
— Casey Johnson (@KCJHoop) February 2, 2018
Kobe Bryant vs. Shaquille O’Neal – Los Angeles Lakers 1999
Widely considered one of the greatest duos, the affairs between Kobe and Shaq are well documented. While they won multiple championships with the Lakers, they were also in a years-long feud. Eventually, the feud led to O’Neal seeking a trade when he was traded to Miami.
Years after their retirement, the two recounted an instance of a punch being thrown in a 2018 1-on-1 interview.
“During the lockout, we’d play a pick-up game,” Bryant recalled. “It was trash talking and when I looked around I realized ‘he’s talking to me’. I say, ‘There will be no more of that, and the next thing I know, a big hand goes one way and I go another. I will throw a [little punch] Then it’s broken.
Bryant spoke about the fight during an appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live. I couldn’t find him,” he said jokingly. “I may lose this fight, but you know I won’t back down.” Bryant added after he and O’Neal continued their condemnation.
Michael Jordan vs. Steve Kerr – Chicago Bulls 1995
There was a lot of behind-the-scenes information on the latest dance documentary. One of them is practically a retelling of the fight between Michael Jordan and Steve Kerr.
“I just took it out and hit him in the eye. And Phil keeps me out of practice.
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) May 4, 2020
“Phil [Jackson] “He understands my aggression, but he’s trying to piss me off by calling these ticks foul,” Jordan said. I’ll bring up Steve Kerr next time. ‘Now that mouth—– g foul,’ I say when I foul him.
In the episode, Kerr mentioned that while he has a lot of patience, he does have moments where he gets restless. Jordan added that Kerr was punched in the chest by head coach Phil Jackson before being punched in the eye before being thrown out of practice.
Evan Turner vs. Lance Stephens – Indiana Pacers 2013-14
Stress can easily build up during the postseason. The 2014 Indiana Pacers are preparing for their first round series against Atlanta when Evan Turner gets separated from Lance Stephenson after a fastball.
According to Yahoo Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski, the brawl was the epitome of a season-long feud, with players frustrated by Stephenson’s outburst. The Pacers were swept by the Hawks in seven games before losing in the Eastern Conference Finals.
Anthony Davis vs Dwight Howard – Los Angeles Lakers 2021-22
The 2022 season was a very disappointing one for Lakers fans and players. Early in the season, there was a bench tussle between star forward Anthony Davis and center Dwight Howard. Both players brushed it off as not being a real problem in the postseason.
AD and Dwight Howard went to the bench during the Laker’s timeout 👀
— Yahoo Sports (@YahooSports) October 23, 2021
“We shut it down right then and there,” Howard said. “We talked about what was going on upstairs. We both wanted to win. We didn’t want to lose this game. … We’re big guys. Things happen, but we’ve already squashed it. No issues.”
Draymond Green vs Jordan Poole – Golden State Warriors 2022-23
A very recent battle and the inspiration for this article. The preseason was exciting for the reigning Golden State Warriors. The leaked video shows Green getting in Poole’s face and throwing punches as he pushes. Green has taken a break from the team and his future with the team has become a hot topic in NBA circles.
Green’s personal issues and mental state contributed to his actions and the reason he took a break.
“The day it happened I was in a very, very bad place mentally,” Green said. “As the leader of this team, I needed to feel better about myself and know and understand where Wike’s end is and what can push me. To be honest, I didn’t handle that very well and I failed as a leader. I have failed as a person, I have failed as a leader.
The Warriors are considering punishing Green internally, but no news of a suspension or fine has been reported.