The practice fight between Draymond Green and Jordan Poole was making headlines all of Friday morning — and for good reason. The video from the incident was damning.
But practice fights have not been a particularly rare occurrence throughout NBA history. Sometimes, they are punished. Much of the time, they are swept under the rug.
“That’s one of the reasons coaches are very leery of opening practices [to the media],” former Timberwolves coach Flip Saunders told reporters back in 2015. “There are a lot of skirmishes.”
Saunders was addressing a fight between Kevin Garnett and Minnesota big man Rick Rickert. There have been plenty of others, too.
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Bobby Portis fights Nikola Mirotic
The Bulls faced an ugly fighting incident five years ago in their training camp.
Portis punched Mirotic during a closed practice, breaking his orbital bone and giving him a concussion. Mirotic missed the first 23 games of the season, and the Bulls decided to suspend Portis for eight games.
Portis eventually apologized to Mirotic, who accepted the apology. The two actually played extremely well together — the Bulls won seven straight games upon Mirotic’s return, a disastrous result given that they were openly resting veterans to lose games by season’s end. Mirotic was eventually traded.
Portis did reveal one important distinction from the incident between Poole and Green, noting that he was acting in self-defense.
Evan Turner fights Lance Stephenson
Turner and Stephenson engaged in a physical skirmish while on the Pacers, shortly before their first-round playoff matchup with the Hawks in 2014. Both players downplayed the incident, and the only real damage was a few scratches on Turner’s neck.
Neither player was disciplined for the fight, and the Pacers went on to make the Eastern Conference Finals that season.
Zach Randolph fights Ruben Patterson
Randolph was on some crazy Trail Blazers teams, and he got into it with Patterson one day in practice. Jonathan Abrams told the story for Grantland back in 2012:
Randolph was suspended for two games and fined $100,000 for the incident.
Shaquille O’Neal fights Kobe Bryant
There was a lot of love between Bryant and O’Neal, but there were also moments of conflict. Bryant recalled the first time those two fought in an appearance on the “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” show.
“I couldn’t reach him,” Bryant joked.
O’Neal threw the first punch, and Bryant “had to slip it. I threw one back, everyone jumped in and broke it apart. … At that point, you gotta say you’re gonna beat the hell out of me, but you’re going to know I’m not going to back down.”
The incident wasn’t considered particularly serious by the parties involved.
“We kept playing. It was during a scrimmage,” Bryant said.
Gary Payton fights Vernon Maxwell
During a 2013 appearance on the “Keepin’ It Real” show with Mike Hill, Payton told the story of his fight with Maxwell.
Payton and Maxwell were both fined an undisclosed amount for the incident, but they did not miss any games.
Michael Jordan fights Steve Kerr and Will Perdue
Jordan was a feisty teammate who would challenge his teammates constantly in practice. He threw punches at both Kerr and Perdue on separate occasions, giving Kerr a black eye. Jordan apologized and was not disciplined on either occasion.
The Bulls ended up getting past both of those ugly moments and winning championships with those players.