The 9 Craziest Moments In NBA History To Celebrate The Start Of The New Season
The NBA season is upon us once again, and while everyone will be focusing on LeBron coming home, or Kobe turning to dust like that dude in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade who drank from the wrong cup, there are sure to be a ton of even better stories. That’s because the NBA is filled with ridiculous characters who do ridiculous things. I mean, this is a league whose arguably two greatest players ever were a giant sex addict and a gambling addicted sociopath.
So to honor the wild and occasionally absurd history of the NBA, let’s sit down and take a look back at the craziest moments of them all. They might not have resulted in any championships, and stuffy old dudes just want to ignore them, but these 9 moments were as exciting as any windmill dunk, and in some cases even changed the league as a whole. That’s because they were the 9 craziest moments in NBA history.
The Nuggets and Knicks Brawl – 2006
The best part of this whole thing might have been little Nate Robinson losing his shit and dancing around like Mike Tyson, challenging everyone who’d ever even heard of Denver to throw down. Or maybe it was Carmelo Anthony throwing sucker punches and then backpedaling towards the safety of his bench like a true hero. Or maybe it was just the old classic of a bunch of middle-aged white dudes trying to hold everyone back. Or maybe… the point is, is that there was a lot going on here. I mean, this was not your typical “brawl” where dudes just push and shove a little bit. Dudes were full on trying to beat each other up. In the end, everyone on the court was ejected and Carmelo set a world record for the 100 meters backwards dash.
Dennis Rodman Kicks A Camera Man – 1997
Oh, Dennis. It says a lot about how crazy Rodman was that this has been largely forgotten by time. In between the Madonna-boning, the wedding dresses and his North Korean adventures, no one has time for a little camera man abuse, but let’s face it, this shit was wild. I mean, come on, he flat out kicked a dude in the nuts! Just some random bro, minding his own business, and then… BOOM! He’s trying to deep breathe and wondering if he’ll ever have children. Dennis was suspended for 11 games and eventually settled with the dude out of court, and the cameraman later received an Emmy nomination for his acting following the kick. It really is a thing of beauty. No one plays dead better than that dude. Not even Sean Bean.
Charles Barkley Spits On A Little Girl – 1991
This actually happened. Okay, fine, Sir Charles was actually trying to spit on a heckler – and how funny is it that this is considered an acceptable excuse? – but lost control of his spit game and ended up hocking one up all over an 8 year-old girl in the crowd. The NBA, it’s fannnnnnnntastic! Just imagine if this happened today. Charles would be crucified live on ESPN. Back then, he was just fined 10 grand, and actually ended up becoming friends with the girl and her family, which is exactly the same way I start all my friendships.
Latrell Sprewell Chokes His Coach – 1997
There’s no real footage of this incident since it happened during practice, but that’s probably a good thing for Latrell, otherwise his career probably would’ve been over right there. That’s because it’s one thing to hear about it, but like Ray Rice can tell you, people tend to react, uh, a little differently once they see that shit.
And what they would have seen is Latrell losing his shit on head coach PJ Carlesimo and choking him for a good 10 seconds before being dragged away. I mean, that’s no quick “Oh shit, I lost my mind, my bad!” kind of thing. That’s an “I’ve thought about this and I’m going to kill you now” deal. And to slam that point home, after Latrell went back to the locker room and took a shower, he came back out 20 minutes later and attacked Carlesimo again! This time he just managed a quick punch to the face before being hauled away, but goddamn, man, I think you made your point.
Spree would end up getting traded because, well, obviously, and then managed to hang around the NBA for years, although he never quite shook his reputation as a coach choker, which is a hell of a thing to be remembered for.
Michael Jordan “Retires” – 1993
During his prime, coming off three straight NBA titles, Michael Jordan, the best and most famous basketball player in the history of the universe (go to hell, Space Jam aliens) shocked everyone by walking away to, uh, go play minor league baseball.
I mean, come on, that’s pretty crazy all on its own, but what makes it even crazier is that almost everyone thinks that it wasn’t really a retirement so much as a “retirement,” one engineered by commissioner David Stern because Michael’s gambling addiction had spiraled completely out of control. It’s just a conspiracy theory, so hopefully MJ won’t send his lawyers or Charles Oakley to beat me about the knees with baseball bats, but a lot of people tend to think it kinda, sorta might be true.
Of course, Michael ended up coming back and kicking everyone’s ass, but let’s not overlook how weird this was. The baseball thing just made it all the more surreal as we got to watch highlights of him playing shitty minor league baseball on ESPN, striking out all the time and generally looking like a gangly doof. I mean, what in the hell?
Kermit Washington Destroys Rudy Tomjanovich’s Face – 1977
Punching people isn’t really all that out of place in the NBA, as we’ve seen – and will see – but usually the truly crazy shit involves multiple punches or fans. Not this one, though, but that’s just because it was the most epic punch in NBA history.
It was really a freak incident, as in the middle of your typical pull-apart everyone-clutching-and-grabbing kind of NBA “brawl,” Rudy Tomjanovich decided to try to play peacemaker and ran in to separate everyone. Kermit Washington decided differently and unloaded a punch that met the charging Rudy T full-on, causing something closer to a car wreck than a fight.
Rudy’s face was completely destroyed, and he said that he could taste his own spinal fluid, which… Jesus Christ! Meanwhile, the crowd went completely silent and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Kermit’s teammate, said that it sounded like a melon being dropped onto concrete. Kermit was suspended for 60 days and eventually found solace in the arms of Miss Piggy, while Rudy T was never quite the same, which is what happens when YOU TASTE YOUR OWN SPINAL FLUID. Good Lord.
Vernon Maxwell Punches Fan – 1995
Look, it’s one thing to punch the other dudes on the court, but when you start opening a can of whoop ass on the fans, you’ve kicked the crazy up a notch. But that’s what Vernon Maxwell did in 1995, when he ran into the stands in Portland and punched a fan in the face, breaking his jaw, because the dude was talking too much shit.
Amazingly, Maxwell was suspended for only 10 games (again, imagine what would happen to him if he did this now) and fined 20 grand. The best part is that Vernon’s lawyer defended him with the classic “he was asking for it” technique, claiming that the dude deserved it because he was dropping certain slurs (I’m sure we can all guess what they were, sadly) and that he would have done the same damn thing. Damn, even “Mad Max’s” lawyer was gangsta.
Magic Johnson Announces He Has HIV – 1991
We all forget this because Magic is still here, looking all fat and happy, and I’m pretty sure he’ll outlive me at this point, but back in the day, this was wild. This would be like LeBron having a press conference tomorrow to announce that he’s retiring because he’s got Ebola.
You also have to take into account that Magic wasn’t just a star. No, he was a pop-culture megastar. He, maybe more than any other player, took the NBA to the level that made it maybe the most popular sport of the ‘80s. He was like a movie star, with that megawatt smile and carefree personality. He was the king of L.A., which is pretty crazy given that it’s, you know, Hollywood. And that dude went on TV and told everyone he was probably gonna die soon. No big deal.
The Malice at the Palace – 2004
How many sports brawls end up getting a nickname that sounds like it was dropped by Don King? I guess that’s just what happens when everyone loses their shit, players end up brawling with fans in the crowd, and the doppelganger of Turtle from Entourage ends up getting punched out after wandering onto the court.
This was beyond wild. This was one of those things that nobody can believe is happening as it’s happening. It just kept getting crazier and crazier. You had Ron Artest completely losing his shit and charging up the stands to murder death kill a dude who tossed a drink on him, you had Stephen Jackson using the whole thing as an excuse to go all Terminator on random fans, hopping around like a crazy person, and of course you had the Detroit fans themselves, who weren’t about to just sit there and let the players hog all the crazy.
I mean, this wasn’t Portland or Seattle, where the fans would have probably tried to calm everyone down with a drum circle and a round of slam poetry. This was Detroit. You throw hands in Detroit and dudes are gonna throw back.
In the end, everyone got suspended, fans were arrested, the Pacers essentially collapsed, Ron Artest became Hannibal Lecter to the public at large, and the NBA – and sports as a whole – suddenly started cracking down on this shit hard. Gone were the days of Vernon Maxwell 10 game suspensions, and the era that we’re living in now became the new reality. This is what did it. This is what set it off. Player behavior has been under the microscope ever since, and it’s thanks in large part to this, the craziest moment in NBA history.