Sports

NBA Scuffle Leads to Ejections, Security Intervention as Players Try To Fight in Tunnel

A mundane Tuesday night NBA game between two sub-.500 teams became anything but mundane thanks to an on-court scuffle that nearly spilled over into the tunnel.

During a game between the Phoenix Suns and Minnesota Timberwolves at Talking Stick Resort Arena, Devin Booker and Gorgui Dieng got into an incident that resulted in ejections for both players.

The situation started when Dieng wildly swung his elbows to fend off Booker, and it continued from there.

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After Dieng apparently connected with Booker’s face, the two then went nose-to-nose and had to be separated by teammates.

The officials then reviewed the play and decided to eject both players.

But the action didn’t stop there. While they were being escorted off the court, Dieng gestured to Booker to meet him in the tunnel. Booker tried to take him up on that offer, running in that direction, but he was restrained by a security guard.

It doesn’t appear that Dieng and Booker continued their faceoff in the tunnel, but John Gambadoro of ArizonaSports.com said they came close to meeting up.

After the game, Dieng essentially called Booker a fake tough guy and wondered why he was even ejected.

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“He talked to me, I talked to him back,” Dieng told reporters. “I think he tried to hit me. Everybody could see I didn’t throw a punch. In this league a lot of guys think they are tough, and they are not.

Do you think both players should be suspended for their actions?

“Technical foul, OK that’s fine, but an ejection? I want to know why. I know if you get two techs you get ejected, but I got one tech. And I didn’t throw a punch. He’s the one who tried to hit me, right? And I got ejected. I would like to know why.”

The ejection itself likely won’t bring additional discipline to the two, but the fact that both made efforts to continue their fight could lead to suspensions.

Dieng stands 6 feet 11 inches and weighs 252 pounds, while Booker is 6 feet 6 inches and weighs 210 pounds. Dieng’s teammate Karl-Anthony Towns, who played with Booker at Kentucky, doesn’t think Booker would fare well in a fight with Dieng.

Booker left the locker room before reporters arrived so we haven’t heard his side of the story. He had 14 points in the game, which was won by Minnesota 118-91.

After cooling down, Dieng did manage to find some humor in the situation, saying he was just racing to the Suns’ locker room in order to exchange jerseys with Booker.

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Ross Kelly has been a sportswriter since 2009.
Ross Kelly has been a sportswriter since 2009 and previously worked for ESPN, CBS and STATS Inc. A native of Louisiana, Ross now resides in Houston.
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