A Top 10 hit list in NBA history

A look at the worst fights, punches and cheap shots in NBA


1. Kermit Washington vs. Rudy Tomjanovich

With a fight already going on at midcourt of a 1977 game between

the Los Angeles Lakers and Houston, the Rockets’ Rudy Tomjanovich

ran in to try to play peacemaker. Instead, he got one of the worst

shots in sports history – a right hand from the Lakers’ Kermit

Washington, forever known around the NBA as ”The Punch.”

Tomjanovich was unconscious and bleeding, eventually needing

multiple operations to repair facial fractures. He also suffered a

concussion and other serious injuries. Tomjanovich returned the

next season, though was never the same player again.

2. Malice at the Palace

The most infamous brawl in NBA history started when Indiana’s

Ron Artest – years before changing his name to Metta World Peace –

fouled Detroit’s Ben Wallace late in a Nov. 19, 2004 game. Wallace

shoved back, other players got involved and Artest wound up lying

on the scorer’s table. He even put on a pair of headphones at one

point, while others on the court continued a battle of mostly words

for over a minute. Then a fan threw a beverage on Artest, prompting

him and teammate Stephen Jackson to head into the stands. ”Someone

started trouble,” Artest said years later, ”but I ended it.”

3. Andrew Bynum vs. JJ Barea

With the Dallas Mavericks up 98-68 in Game 4 of a 2011 Western

Conference playoff series and less than 9 minutes from a sweep of

the Los Angeles Lakers, Barea drove down the lane for a layup.

While airborne, the 6-foot, 175-pound Barea took a hard, deliberate

right-arm shot from the 7-foot, 285-pound Bynum, sending the guard

to the floor. Bynum was immediately ejected, and took his jersey

off before leaving the court – getting walked off by Ron


4. Metta World Peace vs. James Harden

Metta World Peace – the former Ron Artest – found himself in yet

another controversy on Sunday, a moment that started amid

celebration. He had just dunked for the Lakers over Oklahoma City’s

Kevin Durant and Serge Ibaka and was pounding his chest with his

right arm. With James Harden directly next to him, World Peace

raised his left elbow over Harden’s shoulder and cleanly hit the

Thunder guard in the back of the skull. Harden remained down for

about a minute before going to the locker room and did not return

to the game. Said World Peace: ”I got real emotional and

excited.” He called his actions ”unfortunate” and


5. Carmelo Anthony vs. Mardy Collins

Carmelo Anthony was the NBA’s leading scorer on Dec. 16, 2006

when he and the Denver Nuggets visited Madison Square Garden to

play the New York Knicks. With time running down and the Nuggets

comfortably ahead, the Knicks’ Mardy Collins committed a hard foul

against Denver’s J.R. Smith. Several players started pushing and

shoving, and Anthony – who was being held back – broke free and

threw a sucker punch toward Collins, earning a 15-game suspension.

In all, 10 players were ejected.

6. Kevin McHale vs. Kurt Rambis

During Game 4 of the 1984 NBA finals, the Los Angeles Lakers’

Kurt Rambis had a chance for a fast-break layup, with Boston’s

Gerald Henderson a step or two in front of him as he neared the

basket. Rambis was clotheslined by the Celtics’ Kevin McHale on the

play, setting the tone for what became an extremely physical

remainder of the finals. ”Oh, look out,” is how longtime Lakers

announcer Chick Hearn described the play. The Celtics trailed in

the series 2-1 at the time of the Rambis-McHale hit. They went on

to win the title in seven games, starting with a victory in that

pivotal Game 4.

7. Jason Smith vs. Blake Griffin

Earlier this season, in a game between the New Orleans Hornets

and Los Angeles Clippers, Griffin, one of the game’s most

spectacular dunkers, caught a pass near the top of the 3-point line

and was sprinting toward the rim with 4:06 left in the fourth

quarter. He never got airborne. Smith lowered his shoulder into

Griffin, sending the Clippers’ star sprawling. Griffin remained

down for about 30 seconds, then was clearly groggy when he got to

his feet. Smith walked through a courtside seating area to avoid

three Clippers who confronted him moments after the hit, then

raised his arm to acknowledge cheers from the crowd.

8. Robert Horry vs. Steve Nash

With 18.2 seconds left in a San Antonio-Phoenix playoff game in

2007, the Spurs were down three and had to foul. Horry went too

far, however, using his forearm to send Nash flying into the lower

part of the scorer’s table. Horry walked away like nothing

happened, and Nash – who was running at close to full speed when he

was sent airborne – eventually got up as players from both teams

pushed and shoved a bit more after the play.

9. P.J. Brown vs. Charlie Ward

The 1997 Miami-New York playoff series was filled with angst,

which all boiled over in Game 5 after Brown and Ward were jostling

for rebounding position during a Heat free throw attempt. Brown

flipped the Knicks’ guard over into a row of courtside

photographers, sparking a melee that led to the suspensions of four

New York players – Allan Houston, Patrick Ewing, Larry Johnson and

John Starks – for leaving their bench to join the fight. Those

suspensions were ultimately upheld by a U.S. District Court


10. Raja Bell vs. Kobe Bryant

In the 2006 playoffs between the Lakers and Phoenix Suns, Bryant

had the ball at the top of the key and was being guarded by Bell.

When Bryant made a move to his right, Bell took his left arm and

wrapped it around the neck area of the Lakers guard, throwing him

to the floor. It was one in a series of memorable dustups between

Bryant and Bell, who later acknowledged a lack of judgment. Bryant

apparently got over it – four years later, he was trying to lure

Bell to sign with the Lakers.