Kenyon Martin was known as one of the NBA’s tough guys during his career. The power forward was a physical presence on the block and wasn’t afraid for that physicality to escalate a little bit.
Martin recently went on Chris Broussard’s “In The Zone” podcast and the conversation turned to fights in the NBA. Martin said that the best fights happen behind closed doors because so many guys act tough for the cameras but don’t really want to actually fight. That said, there are guys that will rumble, including Martin himself, and he detailed the best fights he ever saw during his time in the NBA.
Martin told two brief stories of fights not involving himself, one from his rookie year and another from his time with the Nuggets, as transcribed by Fox Sports’ Andrew Lynch.
My rookie year, I saw Kendall Gill choke out Jim McIlvaine in practice. Choked him out in practice one day. Jim McIlvaine was wild. He elbowed him one day in practice, elbowed him a couple times, and Kendall got fed up. Grabbed him, put him to the ground, man, and choked him, like, “I’ll kill you!”
Other than myself, Nene grabbed Steve Blake by his throat one day at practice. … Grabbed this man by his throat and picked him up. Nene’s got them big ol’ hands, man. Picked that man up. Steve Blake was punching him.
Imagining Nene and Steve Blake fighting is somewhat hilarious, especially with the visual of Nene picking Blake up off the ground by his throat. That wasn’t the only story Martin had involving the big Brazilian. Martin and Nene had their own scrap when Martin first got to Denver in a preseason open run. Martin said Nene would purposefully avoid playing in games with him, so he showed up late one day just to trick Nene into playing and then jumping in on the run.
I come to the gym late one day, and he’s playing. All right, let me guard him. I guard him, we’re going back and forth. We ain’t really playing basketball, it’s kind of getting a little chippy. Physical, I don’t mind. But I stopped play a few times, “Listen, Nene, you’re not playing basketball. Chill.” … I stopped play, man. “Listen, you do it again, I’m going to punch you. Straight up. No ifs, ands, I’m going to punch you if you do it again.”
We go down, what he do? I try to box him out, he’s running with his forearm at my head. I stand him up, hit him in his chest, boom. He threw his hands up, and I turned everything into him. Hips, everything, hook. He grabbed his eye, he was bleeding, his eyeball was fluttering like it was moving. Grabbed his eye, it was bleeding, and he walked off.
The moral of the story from all of this is that if you want to see a good basketball fight, you have to find a way to go to an NBA practice, and you also don’t mess with Kenyon Martin.