LeBron James made his home debut for the Los Angeles Lakers against the Houston Rockets last night, and while the game certainly lived up to the hype, it was not for the reasons you might have assumed. The occasion will be remembered for a brawl which broke out in the fourth quarter between Rajon Rondo and Chris Paul, with a number of punches thrown.
Paul claims the melee started after Rondo spat on him, although this is unclear from looking at footage of the incident.
The events occurred after a dubious decision was given against the Lakers. With four minutes remaining in the final quarter and the Rockets holding a one point lead, Brandon Ingram reacted negatively to a foul call given to Houston's James Harden. Ingram shoved Harden before remonstrating with officials.
Members of both teams then squared off, before a punch was thrown was thrown and all hell broke loose. Chris Paul appeared to raise his hand to Rondo's face first, before he responded by throwing a punch.
— Darren M. Haynes (@DarrenMHaynes) October 21, 2018
This angle gives you a better look at what happened between the pair.
Here's a better video of the lakers-rockets fight. What a game it was! pic.twitter.com/FSlQIdnRrw
— OpinionatedFacts (@OpinionFax) October 21, 2018
It is difficult to see if Rondo did indeed spit on his opponent, although Paul is adamant that is what happened. Rockets forward Carmelo Anthony was standing right where the incident occurred, and he has no doubts that spitting was involved.
That's unacceptable. You don’t do that. You don’t do that, to nobody. In sports, on the streets, that’s blatant disrespectful right there.
I was right there, so. I was standing right next to Chris.
The NBA, they got to do what they got to do. They got to do what’s right. I hope they do what’s right.
Rondo denies the claims. According to Adrian Wojnarowski, the Lakers are standing by their player.
Sources: Lakers officials watched tape and are backing Rajon Rondo’s contention that he didn’t spit on Chris Paul. Meanwhile, CP3 and Rockets are insisting that Rondo did spit. “Lot of history between them,” one source connected to both players says.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) October 21, 2018
Rondo, Paul and Ingram were all ejected from the game for their parts in the incident. The NBA will also likely hand down a suspension and sizeable fines to the trio, which could be announced as early as today.
The Rockets would go on to claim the win on a 124-115 scoreline.