Warriors Fight in Indiana: Tough or Stupid?

Last night, the Warriors got into one of biggest scuffles the NBA has seen in a while. Other than the fight between Rajon Rondo and Kris Humphries, nothing really comes close this season. But what started this fight? First of all, let me clear. I have loyalty to my team’s players, but when they do something stupid, I’m not going to defend them just because they’re on my team.

Last night, David Lee did something stupid. Despite Roy Hibbert being the player thrown out of the game, it was David Lee who started the shoving match with the Indiana center, and Lee who responded to Hibbert’s shove by escalating what should have just been a quick shoving match between the two big men. Where this mess really became a problem was when Stephen Curry raced in to break them up and Hibbert shoved him to the ground, twice. I don’t mind Steph trying to step in, and his instincts could have helped to end it quickly. What he did wrong, though was going after Hibbert instead of Lee. You should always try to pull your own player away, if possible. Perhaps something most haven’t thought of: Was a peace-maker even needed? Lee and Hibbert had been all but separated by the time Curry arrived, and his actions, thought not intended to escalate the incident, actually served to make the situation worse. I’m not saying it’s his fault, it’s just what happened. Hibbert, and later, David West were most out of line in the scrum, with Hibbert tossing Curry aside multiple times, once even with an elbow. West later clubs Andris Biedrins in the head multiple times, sending him crashing to the floor while Beans was trying to wrap up his teammate, Curry. In the end, I think all the Warriors who deserved technical fouls got them, as Curry’s 2nd attempt to chase down Hibbert was unnecessary, even if he only wanted to let the big man know he didn’t like being tossed aside. Klay Thompson at one point gives Hibbert a solid shove near the stands, so his technical was valid as well.

Watch the Fight:

But back to David Lee, who started this whole thing. Why did he do it? If you didn’t watch the game, the box score can help you get a little bit bettter of an understanding. The Indiana big men had been getting the better of him all night. Using their size and strength down low to bully Lee into a 5-12 shooting night, 5 turnovers, and having 3 of his own shots blocked. He was upset with Hibbert on this particular play for having thrown his body into him to get rebounding positioning. Frustration got the better of Lee, who after the foul call on Andris Biedrins, pushes Hibbert off of him. Perhaps he didn’t expect Hibbert to shove back. But whatever his reasoning, it’s hard to defend Lee in this. The fact that he thought he hadn’t got his fair share of shoving in and went ramming back into Hibbert a second time only makes it tougher.

So to the original question of tough or stupid? David Lee was STUPID. Stupid, stupid, stupid. I like some grit and toughness from my teams, no doubt about it, but what David Lee did last night was out of frustration from having gotten beat all night. Rather than fighting back in legal ways and using his body to push Indiana players around in the paint, he turned the game into a fight, and got a bunch of his other players involved. I think it’s worse that he did it with the Warriors down 10 with 6 minutes to play. He should have been focused on climbing back from the deficit and winning the game. Had Stephen Curry or Klay Thompson or Jarrett Jack or Andris Biedrins gotten injured in this mess, it’d be our All-Star that I’d blame for it, because all of them, no matter their actions, only got involved in defense of their teammate. I commend them for that, even if I don’t condone all of their actions.

But Lee played like a chump, looked like a chump, and acted like a chump last night. For most of the night, he was mouthy, pissy, and whining to referees about the physical play. On the last part, he was right. The referees did a terrible job managing the game, and in fact, what Hibbert did that so angered Lee could have been called a foul itself. It wasn’t, as much of the illegal play last night was not. They’re are fault here too, thought that’s no surprise given the crew the NBA assigned to the game. All in all, the Warriors didn’t need this. This didn’t make them look tough. This didn’t win them any fans. This, I’d wager, was the biggest black mark of the season for Golden State. Hopefully, they can learn from it, though I think Lee has been in the league too long to change now. Hopefully, Lee didn’t get himself suspended, or any of his teammates. I would expect not, but who knows what the NBA committee to decide these things will come up with?

Last night was just a bad night for Warrior basketball. All the way around.

Update:

Lee and Hibbert suspended one game each. Curry, Thompson and Lance Stepehenson fined $35K. No penalty for West.

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