Today, NBA fans recognize Danny Ainge as the mastermind who has helped construct the current Celtics team. Boston has been successful the past couple of seasons and is chock-full of young talent, assets, and All-Stars. Although Ainge has established himself as a successful GM in the league, he can also be remembered for his solid 15 year NBA career.
While he had many memorable moments, there is one in particular that everybody remembers, the so-called “Fight Club Friday”.
The date was May 13, 1994. Charles Barkley and the Suns had advanced through the first round of the playoffs by eliminating the Golden State Warriors 3-0. Next up was the Houston Rockets, led by Hakeem Olajuwon. The Suns came out the gate hot, winning the first two games in the seven-game series.
During the game, Mario Elie made a great play in which he was able to create contact from Ainge, draw a foul, and make the basket to set up a three-point opportunity. In celebration, Ellie got in Ainge’s face to talk a little smack, as players often do during the playoffs. Danny didn’t care for those antics at the time.
But with six seconds left, and a lead of 116-102, the Rockets pushed the ball up the court. Olajuwon concluded the play by slamming the ball down hard in an effort to close the game out with authority. In a moment of rage, due to the unnecessary dunk as time was expiring, Ainge proceeded to throw the ball in after the basket, baseball style, directly off of Mario Ellie’s face.
Hilariously enough, the ball bounced right back to the sideline and went out of bounds for Ainge to inbound it one more time, as if nothing had happened.