UCLA forward Don MacLean's tryout for the U.S. basketball team at the Goodwill Games ended with a punch by Colorado center Shaun Vandiver that broke MacLean's cheekbone in three places.
The injury forced MacLean to return home early. Vandiver was dismissed from the tryouts at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo., by the USA Basketball executive committee.
The fight occurred Sunday night after a scrimmage. According to a coach who asked that his name not be used, the 6-foot-10, 224-pound MacLean and the 6-9, 240-pound Vandiver were bumping each other around when MacLean caught Vandiver with an elbow in the face.
"I don't think it was a malicious thing," the coach said.
"It was a physical game, and we were going at each other pretty good," MacLean said Wednesday from Los Angeles. "I did hit him with an elbow. I guess he thought it was intentional, and he carried it on after the game."
A timeout was called at that point, and there were no further hostilities in the scrimmage. The players showered and dressed, but then Vandiver confronted MacLean and punched him in the face, knocking him down.
MacLean was taken to the trainer's room, where Vandiver reportedly tried to go in after him.
"The game wasn't anything out of the ordinary," said MacLean, who is expected to be out two to three weeks. "Usually, if someone gets hit with an elbow or something, they'll try to get back at you, but 90% of the time, that kind of thing stays on the court."
MacLean was subsequently examined by a doctor who refused to clear him for the final day of tryouts.
At UCLA, MacLean has had a history of talking to opponents, which has made him one of the Pacific 10's most controversial players. Although the coach said he didn't see any untoward behavior on MacLean's part in the camp, it seems doubtful that he will make the team for the Goodwill Games July 20-Aug. 5 in Seattle.
Times staff writer Steve Horn contributed to this story.