Brandon Ingram met with the media for the first time since he instigated Saturday night’s brawl near the end of the Lakers home loss to the Rockets.
Ingram set off quite the chain of events when he shoved James Harden and got in the face of a referee, before later returning to throw a haymaker at Chris Paul when Paul and Rajon Rondo started throwing punches at each other (after Rondo spit on Paul). The fight was one of the most severe in recent memory in the NBA, which has worked hard to eliminate these sorts of incidents from being commonplace.
On Sunday, the league handed out suspensions for the three key figures in the fight, with Ingram getting the most severe punishment at four games, while Rondo received three and Paul received two for their actions. There were many that felt those suspensions were a bit light, as some were projecting the league to send a stronger message with Ingram possibly facing closer to a double-digit suspension. Even Ingram was a bit surprised to learn he’d only miss four games for what he did, telling reporters he was preparing for a much longer absence, but was grateful for the four games.
This being Ingram’s first offense of such actions likely helped him in this case, as he’s never really been involved in an altercation on the court in his previous two seasons. Now, though, anything more from him in the form of fighting will undoubtedly carry a more severe penalty than usual because he would be a repeat offender, but in this instance, his normally quiet demeanor has served to help him avoid a massive suspension.
It also helps that fights haven’t been happening all that often in the NBA in recent years, so the league isn’t trying to send as big of a message that they won’t tolerate it as they were a decade ago, when the Malice in the Palace was still fresh in everyone’s minds and the league was desperate to make sure that wasn’t the defining characteristic of the league. Players are, for the most part, much smarter when it comes to on-court altercations now, understanding the risks of throwing punches as it pertains to their checkbooks.
Ingram says he apologized to his teammates and will learn from this moving forward, which is all the NBA wants. It’s good for him, the Lakers, and the league to have this be a shorter suspension, so everyone can hopefully move on — until the two teams meet again on December 13, at least.