Starting the NBA Season with Spit and Punches

Lily Chen ‘21

Saturday, October 20th: with only four minutes and thirteen seconds remaining in an intense game between the Houston Rockets and the Los Angeles Lakers, Rajon Rondo, point guard for the Lakers, spit in Chris Paul’s face. Paul, point guard for the Rockets, shoved his finger in Rajon Rondo’s face. Within seconds, Rondo responded by throwing a punch at Chris Paul. Chaos erupts.

In response to this violent clash, the NBA has suspended Rajon Rondo for three games and Chris Paul for two games without pay. Reactions have been controversial. Are these suspensions too much? Too little?

These penalties are big losses for the players and their teams. Although some may scoff at the suspension of 3 and 4 games, both players lose a large amount of money and hurt their team, as both Paul and Rondo are key players for their respective teams. The two suspensions sum up to over $650,000 lost. When judging the fairness of these penalties, it’s important to consider the instigator, the danger of the situation, and how it all escalated.

Sreekar Madabushi ‘20 claims “It’s fair that Rondo has to sit out for one more game than Paul because he instigated it. Spitting on someone is unjustifiable. I don’t agree with Paul’s actions to continue with violence, but the fight wouldn’t have happened if Rondo didn’t start it.” Furthermore, no matter who, or how much history is involved, there’s no reason to spit on anybody. Spitting and instigating violence will only harm a player’s career and team.

Additionally, many others continue to criticize whether Chris Paul should be punished or not. Are his actions just defense?

Eric Gordon, Shooting guard of the Rockets, defends his teammate saying, “If somebody is attacking you, you got to somewhat protect yourself.”

However, despite these claims, Paul retaliated, as he jutted his finger, and actively participated in the fight. Fighting fire with fire does not solve any problems. In the moment that Rondo spit at Paul, if Paul had abstained from violence and kept his cool, he would have walked out without damaging his career. But, Paul responded violently, and his choice to fight back cannot be dismissed. At the end of the day, there are rules on the court that players must follow in order to prevent disorder and craze. Overall, the suspension penalties are just measures that will force players think twice before brawling on the court and emphasize how there is no place for violence in the NBA.

Rondo and Chris were never close friends, as they have feuded for over 10 years. Nonetheless, their rocky relationship does not justify violence on the court, as millions of young children all around the world watch the NBA.

Rachael An ‘21 adds, “NBA players are models for children, teens, and adults around the world. I think it is appropriate to punish those who instigate violence, as it is a serious issue.” Indeed, no matter how heated, competitive, or intense NBA games can get, it’s imperative for them to never get violent, as millions are watching every move of the players.

Ultimately, it is crucial that players do not turn to violence no matter what– violence is only a detriment to their own careers, their teams, and the public. Rondo and Paul’s punishments for brawling on the court are just and emphasize how the NBA environment does not tolerate any form of violence. Looking beyond the scope of the NBA, hopefully this teaches the public to keep their emotions in tact and teaches younger generations that violence will not solve anything.