The practice fight between Draymond Green and Jordan Poole was in the headlines all Friday morning, and for good reason. The video of the incident was damning.
But scrimmages haven’t been a particularly rare occurrence throughout NBA history. Sometimes they are punished. Most of the time, they get swept under the rug.
“That’s one of the reasons coaches are so wary of opening practices. [to the media]former Timberwolves coach Flip Saunders told reporters in 2015. “There are a lot of skirmishes.”
Saunders was referring to a fight between Kevin Garnett and Minnesota big man Rick Rickert. There have been many others, too.
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Bobby Portis fights against Nikola Mirotic
The Bulls faced an ugly fighting incident five years ago at their training camp.
Portis hit Mirotic during close practice, breaking his orbital bone and giving him a concussion. Mirotic missed the first 23 games of the season, and the Bulls decided to suspend Portis for eight games.
Portis eventually apologized to Mirotic, who accepted the apology. In fact, the two played extremely well together: The Bulls won seven straight games with Mirotic’s return, a disastrous result given that they were openly resting veterans to lose games late in the season. Mirotic was eventually traded.
Portis revealed an important distinction from the incident between Poole and Green, noting that he was acting in self-defense.
I got 8 games just for defending me Bobby. I think it is very different. IMO https://t.co/ykEDMbj5Vo pic.twitter.com/47OU0Y6lLC
—Bobby BP Portis (@BPortistime) October 7, 2022
Evan Turner fights with Lance Stephenson
Turner and Stephenson got into a physical skirmish while on the Pacers, shortly before their first-round playoff matchup with the Hawks in 2014. Both players played down the incident, with the only real damage being some scratches on Turner’s neck. Turner.
Neither player was disciplined for the fight, and the Pacers reached the Eastern Conference Finals that season.
Zach Randolph fights Ruben Patterson
Randolph was on some crazy Trail Blazers teams, picking on Patterson one day at practice. Jonathan Abrams told the Grantland story in 2012:
Randolph noticed teammate Qyntel Woods arguing with Patterson and came to Woods’ defense, hitting Patterson. … After Patterson suffered a fractured eye socket, [Oregonian columnist John] Canzano later recalled that “there was a period a few days after that incident where Randolph hid in Dale Davis’s house because he was afraid Patterson was going to try to shoot him.”
Randolph was suspended for two games and fined $100,000 for the incident.
Shaquille O’Neal fights Kobe Bryant
There was a lot of love between Bryant and O’Neal, but there were also moments of conflict. Bryant recalled the first time those two fought in an appearance on “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” to show.
“I couldn’t reach him,” Bryant joked.
O’Neal threw the first punch and Bryant “had to dodge it. I threw one back, everybody jumped up and smashed it… At that point, you have to say you’re going to beat the crap out of me.” But you’ll know that I’m not going to back down.”
The incident was not considered particularly serious by the parties involved.
“We kept playing. It was during practice,” Bryant said.
Gary Payton fights with Vernon Maxwell
During a 2013 appearance on “Keepin’ It Real” with Mike Hill, Payton told the story of his fight with Maxwell.
“I went to the locker room. I waited for him,” Payton said. “I didn’t want to hurt my beautiful hands and all because I was the man, but I have a weight… Horace Grant tried to get in the way. I tried to hit [Maxwell’s] head with the weight, hit Horace Grant, blew him.
“I was out for a game. I felt bad.”
Payton and Maxwell were fined an undisclosed amount for the incident but did not miss any games.
Michael Jordan fights Steve Kerr and Will Perdue
Jordan was a feisty teammate who constantly challenged his teammates in practice. He threw punches at both Kerr and Perdue on separate occasions, giving Kerr a black eye. Jordan apologized and was not penalized on any occasion.
The Bulls ended up overcoming those ugly moments and winning championships with those players.