Detroit’s Bill Laimbeer and Philadelphia’s Charles Barkley, the main protagonists in a brawl during an NBA game Thursday in Auburn Hills, Mich., were suspended for one game and fined $20,000 each Friday as the league assessed a record $162,500 in penalties.
The Pistons’ Scott Hastings was suspended for a game and fined $10,000 for punching Barkley. Five players from each team were fined $500 each for coming off the bench to enter the melee, which began with 15 seconds to play, and each team was fined $50,000 for failing to control its players.
The league also fined Detroit’s Isiah Thomas $7,500 for throwing two punches at Philadelphia’s Rick Mahorn in an incident that resulted in Thomas’ ejection with less than four minutes remaining.
“I don’t care if I get fined,” Barkley said before the fines were announced. “I make $3 million. What’s a couple of thousand dollars?”
NBA Vice President Rod Thorn said Laimbeer was suspended and fined for instigating the altercation and fighting. Barkley, who has been ejected five times this season, was penalized for fighting and Hastings for coming off the bench and throwing punches.
It was a sour ending to a sweet night for the 76ers, who beat Detroit, 107-97, to win their first Atlantic Division championship since 1983--the year Philadelphia won its last NBA championship.
The brawl came when Mahorn scored and was fouled by Dennis Rodman. When Laimbeer retrieved the ball, he shoved it in Mahorn’s face, then stiff-armed his former Piston teammate in the chest.
Barkley then landed punches to Laimbeer’s face, and both benches emptied. Hastings punched Barkley during the melee.
“It started when Laimbeer put the ball in Mahorn’s face,” referee Jake O’Donnell said.
Said Piston Coach Chuck Daly: “I think it has been brewing since early in the season. Barkley has been challenging Laimbeer. Mahorn got in a couple of fights.”
“I guess it was just the intensity of the moment,” said Mahorn, who also was involved in a shoving incident with Joe Dumars before his fracas with Thomas. “I guess it was going to happen. I felt they got frustrated. Isiah swung at me and hit me, so I mean, hey, just got to keep playing and keep focusing. It’s that type of game.”
“I’ve never seen anything like that in the NBA,” 76er Coach Jim Lyman said.
Pistons reserve guard Gerald Henderson, a former 76er, called it the worst fight he has seen.