The 5: Most memorable fights in Valley pro sports history
Torey Lovullo found himself in the midst of a minor kerfuffle Sunday when the Arizona Diamondbacks manager’s poor choice of words didn’t sit well with St. Louis Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina.
In the heat of the moment, “descriptive adjectives” were said. And even though they say “sticks and stones may breaks your bones, but names will never hurt me,” sometimes — many times — words lead to bone breaking.
Luckily for the D-backs, it didn’t come down to that over the weekend.
But it got us wondering: What are the best hullabaloos in Valley professional sports history?
Here are five that stand out for different reasons, including significance, entertainment value or, simply, good ol’ whoopin’ factor.
When unwritten rules lead to broken rules
Before the Los Angeles Dodgers partied in the D-backs’ pool after a division-clinching win at Chase Field, the teams got into a brouhaha months earlier in 2013.
Then-rookie Yasiel Puig got caught by an Ian Kennedy pitch. Diamondbacks catcher Miguel Montero then took a retaliatory pitch from (oh, hey!) Zack Greinke. And thought players meandered out of the respective dugouts, the floodgates didn’t open until Kennedy’s pitch connected with Greinke soon after.
The end result: D-backs manager Kirk Gibson and bench coach Turner Ward were ejected, as was Kennedy, who later received a 10-game suspension. For the Dodgers, Puig, hitting coach Mark McGwire and reliever Ronald Belisario all got the boot.
Of course, the tensions between the two teams lingered.
Ironically, Ward is now the Dodgers’ hitting coach. And Greinke, well, he’s Arizona’s ace.
Chaos at America West Arena
Here is a list of dudes you would not want to get in a fight with: Charles Oakley, Oliver Miller, Anthony Mason, Patrick Ewing and Charles Barkley.
All of those guys were secondary figures in a 1993 fight between the Phoenix Suns and New York Knicks that began with a little dust-up between Phoenix guard Kevin Johnson and New York’s Doc Rivers.
That initial jawing session was eventually broken up, but a play later, after the first half ends, chaos reigned. Johnson set a hard (illegal) screen on Rivers, and Rivers rushed the Suns point guard before multiple scuffles break out. Even Knicks guard Greg Anthony, who was in street clothes, attempts to club Johnson.
Rivers, Mason and John Starks were ejected for the Knicks, while Johnson and Danny Ainge got sent home early for the Suns.
Polite, but awesome nonetheless
This isn’t about the fight or the two guys in it.
It’s about the setup.
Arizona Coyotes forward Georges Laraque happened to be mic’d up during a game against the Los Angeles Kings in 2006-07 season. Unlike many of the other fights in pro sports, the fist-fight between Laraque and Raitis Ivanans began with a cordial conversation.
“You want to? OK,” Laraque said. “Good luck, man.”
Not really a fight but ruled a fight
This is a weird one that can’t be discounted.
It’ll go down as the most pivotal tussles in Suns history, and with all due respect to Raja Bell’s clothesline of Kobe Bryant, it had bigger implications. In Game 4 of Phoenix’s second-round series of the 2007 NBA Playoffs, Steve Nash took a Robert Horry hip-check into the scorer’s table, setting off a brief bench-clearing that was enough to get Suns Amare Stoudemire and Boris Diaw suspended for the next game.
Bell was the only one to confront Horry and Nash, who later admitted to embellishing the hit on him, thought it more comedic.
“Well you know, I’ve been working on the guns a little bit so a couple combos might’ve landed some points on the body,” he said afterward.
But there were few laughs after the fact. Due to league rules, Stoudemire and Diaw were ruled out of the next game, and Phoenix lost any momentum it had in the series.
The Suns lost in six games, San Antonio beat the Utah Jazz, 4-1, in the conference finals and the Spurs then swept the Cleveland Cavaliers to win the title.
A good old whoopin’
We promised you a straight beatdown, and the Coyotes’ Max Domi gave us one.
Just don’t blink. You might miss Domi making quick work of the Anaheim Ducks’ Ryan Kesler back in 2016.
It only took a punch.
By the time the cameras get to the fight, the officials are already pulling Domi off Kesler.
How many times in hockey — or any non-fighting sport — does a guy get straight dropped?