The Lineup: best sports brawls, rhubarbs & melees

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

Ron Artest

RON ARTEST IS NO FRIEND TO HUMANS OR HOUNDS. In 2004, the then-Indiana Pacers forward instigated a brawl by clocking a fan. Recently, he neglected to feed his dog. Jackass...

Society’s sports fixation is undeniable and the only thing that riles people up more than a high-flying dunk or an acrobatic goal is a bench-clearing brawl. Here are some of the better fights we’ve seen in pro sports:

Indiana Pacers vs. Detroit Pistons " Nov. 19, 2004
The “Malice at the Palace” is considered the quintessential sports brawl because of the involvement of both fans and players. The incident began when Ron Artest, lying on the scorers’ table after being ejected for fouling Ben Wallace, had a beer cup thrown at him by a Pistons fan.

Artest, not known for his cool temperament, retaliated by rushing the stands and punching a fan. It would have been a well-deserved hit " had he attacked the right fan. The rest of the fans and players got involved and the night ended with fellow Pacer Jermaine O’Neal one-punching a fan who dared approach him on the court.

The result? NBA commissioner David Stern suspended Artest for the rest of the season and O’Neal for 25 games, and gave numerous other players minor punishments. Since then, Artest has been in trouble with the law for domestic violence and failing to feed his dog.

Soviet Union vs. Hungary, Olympic Games " Dec. 7, 1956
Days after the Soviet Union invaded and bombed Hungary, representatives of the two countries faced off in another battle " a waterpolo match in the Melbourne Olympic Games. The Hungarians trash talked their opponents, but when the “yo-mama” jokes (seriously) got out of control, the Soviets retaliated with some punches to the head. An all-out brawl ensued and the game ended with the pool stained red. The Soviets may have won the war, but the Hungarians won gold.

Chicago White Sox vs. Umpire George Moriarty " May 30, 1932
Whoever thought baseball was a non-contact sport was proven wrong during this game, when the angry White Sox accused Moriarty of favouring the other team.

Insulted, Moriarty challenged the entire team to a fight. The first player to step up, pitcher Milt Gaston, was knocked out by one blow from the infuriated ump. Unfortunately for Moriarty, he couldn’t battle the rest of the team; he broke his hand on Gaston’s face. The players and umpire were escorted off the field and, not surprisingly, Moriarty’s integrity was never questioned again.

Montreal Canadiens vs. Boston Bruins " March 13, 1955
Maurice “Rocket” Richard, the Montreal hero known for putting the puck in the net, reached the record books in a more unconventional way after being hit by Hal Laycoe of the Bruins. Feeling the hit was too high, the Rocket attempted to injure Laycoe. The officials gave him a match penalty, a tactic that doesn’t really work if the player refuses to leave the ice. Richard kept attacking his opponent and even went after the linesman who tried to stop him.

NHL president Clarence Campbell responded to the Rocket’s attack on the official " the second of his career " with a season-long suspension. Campbell’s next visit to Montreal went over better than expected. There was only a modest $500,000 in damage and a few hundred arrests. Imagine what would have happened had the arena not been evacuated after a homemade tear gas bomb was deployed.

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