With all the talks of a super fight between Conor McGregor and Floyd “Money” Mayweather, the world might actually be looking forward to another fight even more: Serge Ibaka vs. Robin Lopez part two. The two NBA big men came to blows last night when the Toronto Raptors hosted the Chicago Bulls, resulting in both players being immediately ejected from the game. There hasn’t been a significant fist fight between NBA players since 2006, so this was a pretty big deal. The last time a player was suspended for getting physical was when Metta World Peace was suspended for seven games in 2012 for elbowing James Harden.
The NBA has come down hard on players for fighting in recent years. Former NBA commissioner David Stern laid the groundwork for disciplining players who engage in physical altercations with other players. After the 2006 brawl between the Denver Nuggets and the New York Knicks, the framework was put into place and has held up for the last decade. Players are aware of the ramifications of engaging in an on-court fight. Hefty fines and lengthy suspensions are what’s in store for any player that decides to cross that line. No player wants to see their wallet so negatively impacted, and that’s one of the main reasons there has been little to no serious altercations in the last 10 years. That is, until last night between Serge Ibaka and Robin Lopez.
These photos of the Robin Lopez – Serge Ibaka fight are INTENSE.
???? via Getty pic.twitter.com/U5wYHmXAcP
— Yahoo Sports (@YahooSports) March 22, 2017
The fight between Robin Lopez and Serge Ibaka last night also shows that the playoffs are obviously getting closer. The Toronto Raptors and the Chicago Bulls are both still in the hunt in the NBA Eastern Conference playoff race and those types of teams start to compete even harder around this time of year. Tempers flare and emotions sometimes get out of control in the heat of battle when your team is trying to compete for an NBA championship.
The skirmish between Robin Lopez and Serge Ibaka apparently started underneath the rim when Ibaka reportedly snatched away a rebound from Lopez, causing Lopez to react by swiping the ball away. Lopez claims that prior to the rebound, Ibaka threw him a nasty elbow, which is why he reacted the way he did. Some choice words were exchanged, and Lopez uncorked an overhead haymaker that barely missed Ibaka’s face. Ibaka responded by hurling a punch of his own, only to see it barely graze the chin of Lopez.
— Matt Winer (@matt_winer) March 22, 2017
The good thing for both players is that the punches technically didn’t land, which would’ve made the situation much worse. Just imagine if the punches were an inch closer, and you could be looking at a broken nose or a broken jaw for either party — or worse. As it stands, the NBA has made a decision on what kind of punishment that Robin Lopez and Serge Ibaka will serve for fighting on the court. It looks like both men will be suspended for one game. The last thing either of these teams needs is to lose a key piece of the rotation right before the playoffs start because of an injury caused by fighting, an action that totally could have been avoided.
Serge Ibaka had this to say in regards to his role in the melee.
“That thing happened where you just start to push each other, like always happens when there’s contact, and then he throws a punch. You know, like a man, I had to defend myself. I’m not just going to be out there and watch a man like him punch me and just walk away. I had to defend myself. So that’s what happened.”
Lopez commented and acknowledged that he will probably be suspended for his actions, according to NESN. His twin brother, Brook Lopez, is a starting center for the Brooklyn Nets, and after his game last night, he was told about the fight between his brother and Serge Ibaka.
Here’s his hilarious response.
“Maybe we’ll get a grudge match, who knows? I’m pulling for Ibaka, though.”
Knowing that Serge Ibaka and Robin Lopez have been suspended for their actions on the court last night, how much punishment should the NBA hand down for getting physical during the game? Sound off in the comments and tell us what you think of the fight that broke out at the Chicago Bulls vs. Toronto Raptors game last night.
[Featured Image by John Raoux/AP Images]