Skip to main content

[1977] Kareem Abdul Jabbar breaks hand after sucker-punching Kent Benson

Kareem-Abdul-Jabbar

Entering the 77-78' NBA season, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was the most dominant basketball player on the planet for almost a decade. In his two years with the Lakers, he had won two MVPs.

The Lakers’ first game of the season was against the Bucks. Milwaukee had the first pick in the 1977 NBA draft. They selected Indiana big-man Kent Benson.

Before his first game in the league, Benson spoke about how he would try to defend Abdul-Jabbar: “I’m going to try and push and shove. But how much I can get by with, I don’t know.” It turned out, very little. In the second minute of the game, Benson shot an elbow at Kareem’s gut. Kareem began to jog up the court as if nothing had happened, then turned and sucker-punched Benson in the mouth. Needless to say, Kareem was ejected from the game.

Scroll to Continue

Recommended Articles

Following the game, Benson took the altercation remarkably well considering his rough introduction to the league saying he was “sorry the whole thing had to happen.” Kareem was less conciliatory saying that he didn’t regret the punch and he’d do it again. The refs didn’t like Kareem (to be fair nobody liked Kareem), so he was pushed around in the post and cheap shotted constantly with no whistles. The punch was a statement that he wouldn’t be taking it this season. The statement cost him $5,000 (of a reported $500,000 salary), the largest fine in league history at that time.

The greater cost, though, was that Kareem had broken his hand on Kent Benson’s face. The reigning MVP was kept out for two months missing 20 games.

"I received an elbow in the stomach, and when I retaliated, I got a $5,000 fine and the other guy got nothing," Abdul-Jabbar said.

Allen Iverson created his own path to the NBA that many players after him have looked to follow

'I'm a Sixer for life' - Allen Iverson doesn't understand why the Sixers won't consider giving him a role in the organization

Allen Iverson wanted to help the Sixers but is wondering why nothing has materialized yet to this day.

Kareem-Abdul-Jabbar

“It's not a hard shot to learn” — Kareem Abdul-Jabbar explains why no player in NBA history has perfected the skyhook

It might not have been passed to one generation after another, but that proves that only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar perfected one of the most iconic signature moves in the history of the sport.

North Carolina Tar Heels former guard Michael Jordan and former head coach Dean Smith

“It was Coach [Dean] Smith's call” — Michael Jordan opens up about what convinced him to declare for the NBA Draft

Michael Jordan's college coach Dean Smith was the one who pushed him to forego his senior year in North Carolina.

Los Angeles Lakers center Vlade Divac

“He enjoyed smoking cigarettes more than shooting free throws in practice” — Vlade Divac was called out for his smoking addiction during his time with the Los Angeles Lakers

While Divac's smoking addiction might've earned him a spot on the Lakers roster, it also certainly rubbed his teammates the wrong way.

Washington Wizards guard Michael Jordan

“One of the bad decisions I made was to go back and play” — Michael Jordan on why he regrets coming back to play for the Washington Wizards

MJ thought he was ”being innovative in my job by going down and evaluating the talent firsthand.” It was the exact opposite.

Matt Barnes on the Ime Udoka suspension - “This situation in Boston is deep, messy and 100 times uglier than any of us thought”

Matt Barnes on the Ime Udoka suspension -“This situation in Boston is deep, messy and 100 times uglier than any of us thought”

Barnes said he got the full scoop of the Udoka situation. and says that the story is deeper and uglier than he was made to believe, although he wouldn't divulge the details of the story