A summer youth basketball game turned into a brawl with players and referees trading blows Sunday morning.
A video was posted to Twitter by Doug Jones that shows an amateur game at the Association Presents The Finals tournament in an Atlanta suburb erupting into chaos.
Initially reported to be an Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) event, the national organization released a statement distancing itself, stating it did not license the tournament.
The video begins with less than a minute remaining in a game between Chicago-based R.A.W. Athletics and the Houston Raptors at the LakePoint sports facility in Emerson, Ga. Three R.A.W. Athletics players loom over a referee, who is pushed and punched as he tries to get to his feet. When he stands, the referee escalates the situation by going after one of the players. The official soon rips off his shirt while being restrained.
An older referee from another court, who was later identified by Atlanta’s WSB-TV as the younger referee’s father, runs over to break up the scrum and the situation is momentarily calmed. But moments later the mayhem resumes with the older referee going after an adult with the team, possibly a coach. The two wrestle to the floor. The younger referee also goes to the ground during the scrum and takes punches from multiple players.
A second video shows the melee continuing with the younger referee on the ground taking punches and one of the players eventually being tackled into the bleachers by the older referee.
R.A.W. Athletics coach Howard Martin later gave his side of the story and defended his players on Twitter, writing: “A ref actually walked up on one of our players and attacked him. Everyone tried to break it all up, then the ref’s father [who was working a game on a different court] ran over to our court and rushed our guys … everyone in the gym, the other team and the directors saw everything.”
The tweet has since been deleted.
Martin also told Atlanta’s WSB-TV that he thinks one of his players had complained to a referee about a call before being ejected from the game. Martin said the player was walking toward the bench when the referee pushed him.
Raptors coach Bobby Benjamin said he saw a player bump into the referee but that he wasn’t exactly sure what started the fight.
The referee management didn’t return calls and emails.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.