Listen, there are reasons to be critical of the NBA, but lack of entertainment is not one of them. The NBA is like a weird amalgamation between a sitcom, a soap opera, and your Thursday night hoops at 24 Hour Fitness. We aren‚Äôt even finished with the first weekend and already we‚Äôve had a legitimate brawl with an alleged spitting incident.
To sort through this, let‚Äôs start from the top. Josh Hart was taken down hard by James Ennis. The play resulted in a flagrant one, but the call and the play ratcheted up the tension in an already competitive game. That happened in the fourth quarter and Luke Walton himself said it didn‚Äôt sit well with the team. (around 1:00):
Luke Walton talks about some of the game fallout of the fight and speculated that the James Ennis foul on Josh Hart might‚Äôve helped fuel the tension that led to it. pic.twitter.com/J2sfnurBSe
‚ÄĒ Kyle Goon (@kylegoon) October 21, 2018
Following that play, the Lakers were frustrated. Then, that frustration bubbled over. Brandon Ingram fouled James Harden. After the fact, he shoves Harden in the back and the ref gives the long swingman a technical. At this point, Ingram is incensed with the referee, but not much happens other than Ingram showing his frustration.
‚ÄĒ Elite Sports NY (@EliteSportsNY) October 21, 2018
And then all hell breaks loose. Rajon Rondo and Chris Paul start jawing, Paul sticks his finger in Rondo‚Äôs face, and then it‚Äôs on. Rondo connects with a left to Paul, but the Rockets point guard came back with a couple connections of his own. Ingram comes in swinging and then it‚Äôs finally broken up. LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony play peacemaker at the end of it all.
Rondo, Paul, and Ingram are all ejected. Look, Paul and Rondo have hated each other for years. It‚Äôs no surprise that the two of them went at it. They‚Äôre both tough competitors and they¬†got caught up in the heat of the moment. They will make peace with one another and this will all blow over.
But since this is the NBA, that cannot be the case. Chris Paul is alleging that Rondo spat on him and that‚Äôs what precipitated the finger in the face.
Sources: Lakers officials watched tape and are backing Rajon Rondo‚Äôs contention that he didn‚Äôt spit on Chris Paul. Meanwhile, CP3 and Rockets are insisting that Rondo did spit. ‚ÄúLot of history between them,‚ÄĚ one source connected to both players says.
‚ÄĒ Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) October 21, 2018
But the Lakers are denying the spit ever occurred. They are saying they looked at the tape and they are outraged.
Sources on @TheAthleticNBA @WatchStadium: Lakers‚Äô Rajon Rondo is adamant there was no spit toward Rockets‚Äô Chris Paul tonight and is livid over the accusation. Lakers spoke with Rondo and looked over tape in which neither side saw such behavior.
‚ÄĒ Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) October 21, 2018
But if you look at the tape, Paul‚Äôs reaction is genuine. Sure, Paul is a pretty convincing flopper when he wants to be, but it really does look like he gets hit in the face with a loogie. The reaction isn‚Äôt forced at all. So did Rajon Rondo spit in Chris Paul‚Äôs face?
No. NBA Twitter savant,¬†World Wide Wob, may have broken this case wide open. It obviously looks like Paul was hit in the face with some saliva, but it‚Äôs hard to tell whether or not Rondo actually spit at him. But after a closer look, there‚Äôs a second spitter.
‚ÄĒ Sherwob Holmes (@World_Wide_Wob) October 21, 2018
Carmelo Anthony is the second spitter. The video is compelling evidence enough. It really doesn‚Äôt look like Rondo is doing any spitting and the Melo yell perfectly coincides with Chris Paul going to his face as if he was spit on.
How did Carmelo react to the incident in the postgame? It‚Äôs funny you should ask.
Carmelo Anthony confirms there was a spitting incident. Says it‚Äôs blatant disrespect. ‚ÄúYou don‚Äôt even do that in the streets‚ÄĚ
‚ÄĒ Taylor Rooks (@TaylorRooks) October 21, 2018
It will be interesting to see how all of this unfolds. There‚Äôs mounting evidence against Melo. World Wide Wob played the role of Jerry Seinfeld on Saturday night.