With suspensions sure to come down the pike, players from both the Los Angeles Lakers and Houston Rockets universally acknowledged Saturday night's brawl between Chris Paul, Rajon Rondo, and Brandon Ingram to be an unfortunate event. But nevertheless, the most common remark to come out of their collective post-game reactions to the scrap was "it is what it is," with most teammates conceding that for good or for bad, Paul and Rondo had some business to take care of.
Converted basketball analyst Paul Pierce confirmed that Paul and Rondo "have never liked each other" during ESPN's postgame coverage of the contest. Pierce dated their animosity towards one another back to the beginning of their careers and confessed that he's actually surprised that it took this long for violence to erupt between them. But while the consensus among observers who are aware of their past so far seems to be that the fight was generally the result of unresolved gripes, the players who were on the court to witness the build-up to the fourth-quarter melee tell a different story.
"It was bulls**t. Plain and simple. Unacceptable. We all know what happened. We don't need to keep going back and forth about that," Carmelo Anthony told reporters before making his exit from the Staples Center. Anthony's name has been circulating reports -- including one posted to Twitter by Bleacher Report-- that he has openly accused Rondo of spitting in Paul's face during their stand-off. Per NBA insider Adrian Wojnarowski, Rondo and the Lakers have vehemently rejected Anthony's account -- but the veteran Rockets star is sticking to it.
"You don't do that to nobody. In sports or in the streets, you don't do that. That's blatantly disrespectful. I mean, you don't even see that in the streets," said Anthony. James Harden proved just as adamant about defending Paul's actions, offering up his take.
"Chris had to stand up for himself. It is what it is. I don't care where, at what point, anytime, NBA game or in the streets."On the other side of the ball, the reaction from teammates was one of support for Rondo, although with the exception of Lance Stephenson -- who claimed Los Angeles had been continually "provoked" by the opposition -- Lakers players pretty much boiled the rift down to one that simply comes with the territory.
"I don't know about provoking and all that. We just want to play basketball," a more diplomatic LeBron James explained.
LeBron's words somewhat echoed the sentiments of JaVale McGee, who avoided pointing the finger to convey that to his determination the late-game developments were simply the manifestation of a highly competitive match-up. As was previously reported in The Inqusitr, Houston was only up by a 109-108 lead when Paul, Rondo, and Ingram got into an exchange of blows. If anything, there was an underlying question of brotherhood and respect that McGee felt was at stake, and he couldn't say he was completely disappointed in how the ordeal took shape.
"One thing I liked about it is everybody is competitive, and just seeing how everybody had everybody's back, I like that. I don't condone fighting but I just liked how everybody was - we were fighting," said McGee. "That's bound to happen. I mean, that's grown men out there fighting. We're fighting for our lifestyle, you know what I'm saying."