Most Memorable Fights In Jazz History
SALT LAKE CITY – Though NBA fights are few and far between, Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert entered his name into the brouhaha history books Thursday night.
Gobert and Pacers center Myles Turner got into a light wrestling match when the Jazz big man pulled the Pacers center to the floor after a blocked shot. Turner shoved Gobert after both players got to their feet, and the teamwide shoving ensued.
With Gobert penciling his name into the ledger of famous Jazz fights, let’s look back at the team’s most notorious on-court altercations.
Jazz Owner Larry H. Miller Fights Nuggets Fan
During Game Five of the Western Conference Semifinals, Jazz owner Larry H. Miller got into an argument with Denver Nuggets fans Rich Babich that looked uglier than it actually was.
The Jazz were heavily favored to sweep the Nuggets after opening the series with a 3-0 lead but underperformed in game four before the series moved back to Utah. The Jazz followed up the game four loss with rough first half against Denver which led Miller to tell coach Jerry Sloan to pull star Karl Malone from the game in the team’s locker room.
On his way back to his seat during halftime, Miller claimed he was bumped by a group of Nuggets fans including Babich which led to the scuffle.
Though the argument never came to blows, photos of Miller lunging at the group of Nuggets fans made the rounds nationwide.
Jerry Sloan And Dennis Rodman
Jerry Sloan never backed down from a fight as a player, and that spilled over into this time as the head coach for the Jazz.
In 1991, tired of forward Dennis Rodman’s physical play against John Stockton, Sloan nearly got into a fight with the Detroit Pistons bad boy.
Sloan went out on the floor and had to be held back by his assistant coaches as Rodman and the coach continued jawing back and forth.
Famously, after Rodman made a free throw he pointed at Sloan to which the coach returned the favor by blowing him a kiss.
That was far from Sloan’s only fracas with the Jazz, however. The coach also went after Jerry Stackhouse after the forward threw punches at guard Jeff Hornacek, landing several in a brief battle.
Sloan also picked fights with tough guys Rasheed Wallace and Kenyon Martin during his career in Utah.
The NBA’s all-time leader in technical fouls, Sloan was also notorious for getting into it with game officials. The coach once pushed referee Courtney Kirkland after a missed out-of-bounds call in Sacramento, resulting in a seven-game suspension.
Karl Malone Vs. The World
Malone threw more than a few elbows during his time with the Jazz, but none were more famous than when he caught both Isiah Thomas and David Robinson with blows above the shoulders.
Thomas caught his elbow from Malone just months after the altercation between Rodman and Sloan, which some saw as payback for how the Pistons had treated Stockton in the previous matchup.
The elbow resulted in 40 stitches in Thomas’s face, a $10,000 fine for Malone, and a one-game suspension.
Infamous for his flailing limbs, Malone also caught Hall of Famer David Robinson with a stray elbow that knocked the San Antonio Spurs superstar unconscious during a game.
In 1998, the Spurs were in Utah to face the Jazz as the playoffs neared, and after Robinson reached to poke away an entry pass, Malone swung wildly and caught the Spurs star squarely in the head.
Robinson collapsed instantly and was later taken to the hospital for a CT scan, though there was no long-term damage. Malone apologized to Robinson for the elbow and was suspended for a game.
In a foreshadowing of his later battles, Malone got into a fight with Golden State Warriors forward Greg Ballard during the 1987 playoffs.
Malone and Ballard threw the ball at one another in the final seconds of the game leading to a fight that included Warriors players throwing punches at fans in the Jazz crowd.
Jazz Rubio Fights The Phoenix Suns
Few Jazz players made a bigger impact on the fan base in a shorter stint than Ricky Rubio in his two seasons in Utah.
The guard’s gentle personality off the floor stood in direct opposition to his aggressive style on the court which clearly rubbed some opponents the wrong way.
Never was that more apparent than in 2018 when after Phoenix Suns center Marquese Chriss blew an open dunk in Salt Lake City which Rubio tried to parlay into a fast break opportunity.
Suns forward Jared Dudley, still upset about the perceived no-call on Chriss’s dunk attempt, committed a hard foul on Rubio to stop the play, which Chriss followed up by throwing Rubio to the floor.
The players on the floor gathered in a scuffle which resulted in $25,000 fines for Chriss and Dudley, and an internal suspension for Chriss by the Suns.
Malone Vs. Rodman In WWE
While it can be debated whether fights on the NBA floor are ever truly fights, there’s no more famous battle in Jazz history than Malone and Rodman facing off in a staged WWE match in 1998.
As the Jazz rivalry with the Chicago Bulls was at an all-time high, Malone joined forces with wrestler Diamond Dallas Page while Rodman teamed with Hulk Hogan in a battle for the ages.
Like the Finals outcomes, unfortunately, Rodman and Hogan defeated Malone and Page, handing the Bulls forward two championship rings, and one championship belt in a two-year span.
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