Until Tuesday, the Chicago Bulls owned the Toronto Raptors for reasons beyond all understanding. In the recent past, the Raptors have been the (much) better basketball team but, for whatever reason, the Bulls have dominated on-court match-ups against Toronto in compiling 11 consecutive victories. On this night, however, some of that frustration appeared to boil over, as Toronto big man Serge Ibaka and Chicago big man Robin Lopez got into a scuffle that included haymakers being thrown in both directions.
The incident occurred with 3:58 remaining in the third quarter and, after a lengthy review, both Ibaka and Lopez were ejected from the game. At the time, the Bulls led by a shocking score of 88-72 on the road in Toronto and the incident seemed to stem from an awkward box-out during a converted basket from Chicago’s Jimmy Butler.
In the arena, there was an audible rise in intensity that was evident even from the ESPN broadcast and those in attendance felt it.
Beyond that, there were plenty of reactions from the internet, including some love for Ibaka as a genuinely tough man.
And, hilariously, Ibaka appeared to “connect” with Lopez’s much-ballyhooed hair.
Further punishment will almost certainly be in the works for one or both players, simply because on-court incidents to this degree are very rare in today’s NBA. Just who was more at fault for the scuffle is up for debate, at least to some degree, but it is always wild to see full-blown punches being traded on an NBA floor and this is easily the most significant brawl of the season to date. The Raptors would go on to complete an epic comeback to tear down the 11-game wall built by Chicago in the series but, even with that in mind, the lasting takeaway will be punches flying between two starting big men.
Update: Lopez and Ibaka have both been suspended for one game without pay by the league for throwing punches at each other and Magloire has been fined $15,000.