The NBA season is barely underway and we already have a spitting controversy involving Chris Paul, Rajon Rondo, and Carmelo Anthony.
Listen, there are reasons to be critical of the NBA, but lack of entertainment is not one of them. The NBA is like a weird amalgamation between a sitcom, a soap opera, and your Thursday night hoops at 24 Hour Fitness. We aren’t even finished with the first weekend and already we’ve had a legitimate brawl with an alleged spitting incident.
To sort through this, let’s start from the top. Josh Hart was taken down hard by James Ennis. The play resulted in a flagrant one foul, but the call and the play ratcheted up the tension in an already competitive game. That happened in the fourth quarter and Luke Walton himself said it didn’t sit well with the team. (around 1:00):
Luke Walton talks about some of the game fallout of the fight and speculated that the James Ennis foul on Josh Hart might’ve helped fuel the tension that led to it. pic.twitter.com/J2sfnurBSe
— Kyle Goon (@kylegoon) October 21, 2018
Following that play, the Lakers were frustrated. Then, that frustration bubbled over. Brandon Ingram fouled James Harden. After the fact, he shoves Harden in the back and the ref gives the long swingman a technical. At this point, Ingram is incensed with the referee, but not much happens other than Ingram showing his frustration.
— Elite Sports NY (@EliteSportsNY) October 21, 2018
And then all hell breaks loose. Rajon Rondo and Chris Paul start jawing, Paul sticks his finger in Rondo’s face, and then it’s on. Rondo connects with a left to Paul, but the Rockets point guard came back with a couple connections of his own. Ingram comes in swinging and then it’s finally broken up. LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony play peacemaker at the end of it all.
Rondo, Paul, and Ingram are all ejected. Look, Paul and Rondo have hated each other for years. It’s no surprise that the two of them went at it. They’re both tough competitors and they got caught up in the heat of the moment. They will make peace with one another and this will all blow over.
But since this is the NBA, that cannot be the case. Chris Paul is alleging that Rondo spat on him and that’s what precipitated the finger in the face.
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
But the Lakers are denying the spit ever occurred. They are saying they looked at the tape and they are outraged.
Sources on @TheAthleticNBA @WatchStadium: Lakers’ Rajon Rondo is adamant there was no spit toward Rockets’ Chris Paul tonight and is livid over the accusation. Lakers spoke with Rondo and looked over tape in which neither side saw such behavior.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) October 21, 2018
But if you look at the tape, Paul’s reaction is genuine. Sure, Paul is a pretty convincing flopper when he wants to be, but it really does look like he gets hit in the face with a loogie. The reaction isn’t forced at all. So did Rajon Rondo spit in Chris Paul’s face?
No. NBA Twitter savant, World Wide Wob, may have broken this case wide open. It obviously looks like Paul was hit in the face with some saliva, but it’s hard to tell whether or not Rondo actually spit at him. But after a closer look, there’s a second spitter.
— Klay Thwobson (@WorldWideWob) October 21, 2018
Carmelo Anthony is the second spitter. The video is compelling evidence enough. It really doesn’t look like Rondo is doing any spitting and the Melo yell perfectly coincides with Chris Paul going to his face as if he was spit on.
How did Carmelo react to the incident in the postgame? It’s funny you should ask.
Carmelo Anthony confirms there was a spitting incident. Says it’s blatant disrespect. “You don’t even do that in the streets”
— Taylor Rooks (@TaylorRooks) October 21, 2018
It will be interesting to see how all of this unfolds. There’s mounting evidence against Melo. World Wide Wob played the role of Jerry Seinfeld on Saturday night.
It appears that Rajon Rondo may have spit at Chris Paul. There’s a new video emerging that could vindicate Carmelo Anthony and Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN is reporting that the league is looking at the video.
Whatever case Rondo's making, NBA is evaluating a video clip captured courtside that shows saliva/spit shooting from Rondo's mouth onto Chris Paul's face. It appears Rondo will have to sell league on fact that it was unintentional — and that appears to be a tough case to make. https://t.co/ddrhhHuxnN
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) October 21, 2018
— Alykhan Bijani (@Rockets_Insider) October 21, 2018
That will be tough for Rondo to defend as unintentional. If the league feels this video is compelling enough evidence, Rondo could be looking at some more time off. Conversely, Chris Paul may be looked upon as a somewhat sympathetic figure.
The NBA is unbelievable. We are just three games into the season and there’s already an NBA Zapruder Film. This year should be fun.