“That was a hell of a left hand and the uppercut?!” was the alleged comment of Metta World Peace (Ron Artest) to what occurred on the premiere of LeBron as a Laker in LA. After a year of speculating and the decision to come and play for the Lakers, the day when Staples Center would great LeBron as a Laker had finally arrived. Everything was prepared to start a new era in LA Laker history.
Yet, the story of the night and the moment this game will be remembered happened with 4:14 left on the clock in the 4th quarter, the Rockets leading 109 - 108 against the Lakers. A foul was called on Ingram for making contact with Harden on a layup. Harden and Paul started to ask for an and-one when Ingram shoved Harden and said a few words to him. Out of all people, Lance Stephenson kept a cool head an pulled Ingram away. A group of players kept talking to the refs and each other and the next thing we know Rajon Rondo was swinging left and right (and connecting) at Chris Paul. The players were quickly separated and Paul, Rondo, and Ingram (who ran in with a punch) were ejected. Here's how it went down.
The Ingram shove
The beginning of it all. This was a mistake from a young player being irritated by foul hunting. We're not breaking news when we say James Harden (and Chris Paul) annoy a lot of people with blatant foul hunting. When you watch the video you see Harden intentionally bump into Ingram, accentuates the contact to get the call and proceeds to get an and-one. We've seen this many times, whether you find this annoying or not, he gets these calls on a regular basis and has mastered it. He then proceeds to ask for the and.one with ferocious support from Paul and Melo. This is where Ingram is obviously annoyed and shoves Harden and says a few to him. While I understand Ingram's instinctive reaction, he has to do better.
Chris Paul, fighting for justice
Wherever he goes, Chris Paul turns his team into a whining machine. Known for over accentuating fouls, flopping and most of all, complaining to the refs as if a war crime had just been committed, Paul truly misunderstands the ''whatever it takes to win'' idea. A collection of his ''sportsmanship'' is in the works so we won't go in too deep right now, but his reaction to the call did not help the situation for sure. It's stuff like this that get's under people skin (something he for sure sees as a competitive advantage), and he then capitalizes on it at times. Other times, he doesn't get the calls he maybe should....reputation works both ways.
Rondo vs Paul
At this point, it had seemed thing were under control. Stephenson moved Ingram away from the situation and it was time for the officials to decide on what to call. No surprise, Paul decided to contribute to the discussion, assisted by Melo. Rondo came in and they started talking. Then Paul put his hand into Rondo's face and seemingly poked him in the eye, Rondo responded with a left-right combo (landing the left as Metta noticed) and all hell broke loose. Ingram stormed in from the back and threw in a punch. LeBron quickly moved Paul away from the situation and things calmed down.
Later Bill Simmons from The RInger reminded everyone that Rondo and Paul have a history that must've contributed to this escalating. He linked an article from 2009 by Mark Stein describing the situation.
Pauls story seems to be that Rondo provoked his reaction by spitting on him. Melo backed that up and commented "You don't do that to nobody. You don't even see that in the streets, that's unacceptable." Luckily NBA twitter was and the case and Sherwob Holmes provided detailed analysis claiming if there were any spit, it was Melo doing the spitting. So far there is no video evidence Rondo spat at Paul.
Rondo, Paul and Ingram were ejected, they will surely face suspensions for their actions. Ever since The Malice in the Palace the league is very strict about any punches thrown. It will be interesting to see who gets suspended for how long. What is certain that LeBron's first Laker home game will be remembered for something that shouldnt've happened and for that we are all at a loss. Need proof? You probably didn't even wonder what the score was. The Rockets won 124 - 115.