LeBron James making his Lakers debut in Los Angeles wasn’t close to the lead story late Saturday night, as the Lakers and Rockets’ late-game kerfuffle managed to push James to the periphery, at least for a night.
The main combatants in what turned out to be one of the most severe NBA fights in recent memory, with actual punches landing and haymakers being thrown from late-arriving participants, were Chris Paul, Rajon Rondo, and Brandon Ingram. All three figure to face suspensions for their roles, with Ingram likely getting the worst punishment for being the initial instigator in shoving James Harden, then stepping aggressively to a referee, and eventually returning to throw a wild punch at Paul.
As for Paul and Rondo, the two that threw hands at each other, the question has been who instigated who, and that matters for the length of future suspensions. Paul and Carmelo Anthony have alleged Rondo spit on him, leading to him putting his finger in Rondo’s face and sparking punches being thrown. Rondo has denied it, and initial footage was hard to see anything happen prior to Paul going after Rondo.
However, new footage appears to confirm Paul’s account, and could mean a bigger punishment from Rondo, as we have slowed down almost phantom cam footage where you can see spit fly out of Rondo’s mouth and at Paul.
The zoomed in version certainly seems to show spit and you can see Paul’s head move back and to the left (extreme Seinfeld voice back…and to the left) as it hits him, which wasn’t as noticeable from other angles.
Surely, the NBA has every angle of this possible and is pouring over the video to figure out who did what and what length of suspensions need to be handed out. According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the league has seen this clip and Rondo’s case will be difficult to make that he was not the instigator here.
With the Rockets back in action tonight, one would expect suspensions to come out later on Sunday afternoon and the results could be huge for both teams.