Since the earliest of human societies, people have been discovering new ways to fight. The earliest forms of combat were striking and grappling techniques, which soon developed into complex martial arts, meant for either subduing or outright finishing an opponent.
However, over the course of history, martial arts developed into something much more spiritual. Today, we practice martial arts to improve discipline, channel anger, or simply get better physically.
While MMA and boxing remain widely popular entertainment, individually, athletes (well at least should) stick to this principle of self-improvement.
In stark contrast, we have fighting, which is a burst of aggression, unrelated to martial arts per se. Anyone can enter a fight, whether athletic or not. Of course, fights are incredibly common in sports. Athletes run high on adrenaline throughout the game, and so one bad call is enough to put them at each other’s throats.
In this article, we will focus on precisely this kind of phenomenon as we look at 3 of The Biggest Brawls in Basketball History!
1. New York Knicks vs. Phoenix Suns All Out Brawl
In 1993, the New York Knicks dominated the East Coast basketball league, whereas the Phoenix Suns ruled the west. So, when they faced off in a spectacular game, both fans and bettors were ready for an intense fight. Of course, basketball is one of America’s most popular sports to wager on. Even today, fans visit online basketball and bitcoin bookmakers, looking for excellent odds and placing what they hope to be winning bets.
Everyone expected the Knicks and the Suns to have an excellent fight. What most did not expect was an all-out brawl.
It all began with Suns point guard Kevin Johnson, hitting Doc Rivers with his forearm, and knocking the Knicks player down. From there, it all went south.
Rivers chased down Johnson, and started wailing on him. Other players joined in the fight, and the benches were clear. An all-out brawl right on the court ensued.
After the commotion died down, the results were six ejections, 12 technical fouls, and a lot of harsher punishments for leaving the bench going forward. The game may have been a spectacle, but it was largely overshadowed by the bar-room-type brawl that took place on that court.
2. Pistons vs. Pacers vs. Fans
In 2004, the Detroit Pistons faced off against the Indiana Pacers. An already strained match became a lot more so, when Pistons’ Ben Wallace attempted a layup and was fouled by Ron Artest, who later changed his name to Metta World Peace.
The foul escalated into a shoving match, and the shoving match escalated into a bench-clearing brawl. And just as the fight got ugly, a drunk fan threw a beer.
The beer bottle hit Ron Artest, who, in a moment of adrenaline-fueled anger rushed the stands. The result? An all-out brawl between fans and players. Players were frightened, fans were terrified, and no one came out smelling like roses.
Players and fans faced legal repercussions. The league issued several suspensions, cut paychecks, and vastly harshened the punishments for this sort of behavior. To this day, the 2004 Pistons vs. Pacers game is remembered as the most brutal fight in basketball.
3. Julius Erving vs. Larry Bird
Larry Bird is one of the most successful NBA players of all time. Respected and beloved by fans and players alike, nobody expected the brawl between him and fellow player Julius Erving. Especially considering, the two were friends and colleagues.
After a couple of unfavorable calls, Larry Bird was frustrated at a referee during a 1984 game between the Celtics and the 76ers.
In a fit of anger, the player went after the referee, and Julius Erving attempted to stop him. The next thing you knew, the two were fighting. Others joined, Bird and Erving were both hit with a fine, and ultimately the fight did not (fortunately) carry massive consequences.