Police reportedly called after Rockets try to force locker room brawl
Martin Luther King Jr. was not only known for his social activism, but also his non-violent approach to his activism.
So imagine the irony that as the NBA celebrated Martin Luther King Jr. Day with a slew of games, the festivities ended with one of the more absurd attempts at a brawl in recent memory.
The Los Angeles Clippers beat the Houston Rockets 113-102 in a testy game that had several technical fouls and ejections toward the end of the contest.
There’s certainly no love lost between the two teams.
In 2015, the Rockets completed a stunning 3-1 series comeback in the playoffs against what many considered the best iteration of the “Lob City” Clippers.
And this past offseason, then-Clippers superstar Chris Paul forced his way to the Rockets via trade. Paul was teaming up with fellow star James Harden on the very team that beat Paul’s team in 2015, in a move that had the faintest odor of Kevin Durant joining the Golden State Warriors.
All of that frustration seemed to bubble over in Los Angeles on MLK Day.
Despite Paul receiving a tribute video from the Clippers for his six years of service there, tempers still flared.
At one point, Clippers star Blake Griffin seemed to intentionally bump into Rockets head coach Mike D’Antoni.
Here's the play where Blake Griffin went right at D'Antoni on the way up the court, going out of bounds to bump him. D'Antoni complains about it immediately. pic.twitter.com/dwZeRJlxmv
— ClutchFans (@clutchfans) January 16, 2018
D’Antoni didn’t take kindly to the physicality, and exchanged some not-very-nice words with Griffin.
Blake Griffin: it’s really supposed to be seven seconds or fewer
Mike D’Antoni: pic.twitter.com/LfH6Em80Jd
— Dan Favale (@danfavale) January 16, 2018
“You mean after he hit me? Just that I didn’t appreciate him. But other than that, it’s good,” D’Antoni would later recall of the incident following the game.
That, in turn, led to former teammates Paul and Griffin getting into a verbal altercation.
CP3 & Blake Griffin going at it. ? pic.twitter.com/cGCkdvXN6p
— Legion Hoops (@LegionHoops) January 16, 2018
Meanwhile, injured Clippers guard Austin Rivers only seemed to further agitate Rockets players by chirping in their direction. It eventually led to an ejection of Griffin, who seemed to respond on Rivers’ behalf.
Here's Austin Rivers in a boot yappin at Trevor Ariza pic.twitter.com/iidZrWq1cg
— Aaron Bruski (@aaronbruski) January 16, 2018
Stunningly, the end of the game was only the beginning.
Paul, who is certainly intimate with the layout of the Staples Center, led a contingency of Harden, Trevor Ariza, and Gerald Green to a secret backdoor entrance that connects the home and visitor’s locker rooms, to presumably confront Griffin and Rivers, per ESPN.
To add an extra bizarre element to the scenario, Rockets center Clint Capela reportedly knocked on the front door to the locker room to create a diversion.
The whole fracas prompted a call to be made to the Los Angeles Police Department, per KABC-TV reporter Ashley Brewer.
“It was classic NBA,” ESPN reported one witness as saying. “None of these guys were going to fight.”
“We were where we were supposed to be,” Griffin said. “We were in our locker room. So whatever happens over there, I mean, we can’t control what anybody else does. We control what we did. Everybody was in our seats. That’s it. You should ask them.”
If the NBA Playoffs were to start today, the Rockets would be the No. 2 seed and would face the No. 7 seeded Clippers. That would be a can’t-miss playoff series.
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