When you think of some of the toughest and confrontational players in the NBA’s history, Charles Barkley and Bill Laimbeer‘s names jump quickly to mind. Those two were in the spotlight of a huge fight that broke out during a Pistons–Sixers game in 1990.
It was a very intense and psychical game, or as they called it in the 90s – a game. In the classic “Bad Boys” fashion with Laimbeer, Rodman, Thomas, and others facing another set of pretty tough guys like Charles Barkley and Rick Mahorn. The situation started to get extremely heated when Isiah Thomas punched Rick Mahorn and got ejected. To add insult to injury, Mahorn didn’t flinch at all and just laughed at Thomas. A few possessions later, all hell would break loose.
Towards the last 15 seconds of the game, with the game already decided in Philadelphia’s favor, Mahorn dunked on Rodman and decided to let him know about it. Laimbeer would jump in the picture right away as he showed the ball in Mahorn’s face. The referee separated Rodman and Mahorn, but Barkley just jumped in the picture and started swinging at Laimbeer, connecting a couple of shots. Of course, Laimbeer would not hold back as the two got into a brawl while the benches of both teams ran into the court, creating chaos.
“Barkley hit me first. It has been building for the whole season. My intent wasn’t to start anything. When it happens, you don’t think, you just react. It happens in sports…I think they have big mouths, and they have a bigger media market, and they have to pump themselves up. I don’t think they can play with us.”Bill Laimbeer, Ball is life
Barkley wasn’t done, as he almost got into a fight with a Pistons fan while exiting the court. In the end, he was having fun with it and saying how he won two titles that night: the Central Division title and the heavyweight championship. The NBA would send out a flurry of fines, totaling $162.500, and Barkley and Laimbeer were getting the most significant chunk with $20.000 each and a one-game suspension.
Many years later, Charles talked about the fight on the Dan Patrick Show and, in his fashion, just made fun of the situation and his nemesis Laimbeer:
“Go back and look at the tape; Laimbeer was always getting punched in the head. Just because you got punched in the face doesn’t mean you can fight.”Charles Barkley, The Dan Patrick Show
Thankfully the altercation didn’t go as far as the one 14 years later, also known as the infamous and more known “Malice in the Palace.” Still, never the less, it was an exciting night.