A true gentleman knows that violence is never the answer. That is, unless Chicago Bulls missing link Robin Lopez is trying to take your head off. Then violence is the question. And the answer is YES!
On that note, good gawd almighty! Did you see the ole fashioned donnybrook that broke out during last night’s Raptors-Bulls game? In the closing minutes of the third quarter, with the Bulls up 16, the Raps’ Serge Ibaka and Lopez were jostling for rebounding position. Ibaka shoved Lopez in the back, to which Lopez responded by knocking the ball out of Ibaka’s hands. What ensued was something straight out of the ’90s-era NHL:
Punches! Actual punches! In the present-day NBA, where “getting into it” usually means standing chest-to-chest and gazing into each others’ eyes like Aladdin and Jasmine!
In a post-game scrum, Ibaka Flocka Flame justified his behaviour thusly: “He threw a punch and, like a man, I had to defend myself. I’m not just going to be out there and watch a man like him punch me and just walk away.”
Which is interesting for several reasons. There’s the fact that Ibaka seems to be subscribing to antiquated notions of masculinity, suggesting that reacting with your fists is somehow inherent to being a man. WE MEN! WE MAKE FIRE! WE CLOBBER ENEMY!
There’s also the way Ibaka referred to Lopez as “a man like him.” A man like what? The Encino Man? The Berzerker? Sideshow Bob? (Actually, fair enough. If a man like any of those people were to come at me, I’d feel like my life was in danger, too.)
The adult response, perhaps, would’ve been to take responsibility and say something along the lines of, “I screwed up and lost my temper. I’m sorry.” Using force is appropriate in situations where self-defence is necessary. A basketball game is not one of those situations.
Then again, BOW HOWDY, was that one heck of a thrill ride! We haven’t seen an on-court rumble like that since the infamous brawl between the New York Knicks and Denver Nuggets in 2006. Amid the NBA’s softest era, where players will get technical fouls for poking at air, some pulse-raising aggression feels kind of refreshing. The fight also gave the Raps the spark they needed to pull off an epic, miraculous comeback, breaking their 11-game losing streak against Chicago. (“Yeah, it got us going,” DeMar DeRozan said after the game. “Something like that happens, the crowd got into it.”) Maximum Entertainment!
But, again, to reiterate: might does not make right. Except for when it does. Then it’s pretty goddamn awesome.