#SPITGATE: Did Rajon Rondo spitting on Chris Paul start the Rockets/Lakers brawl?

Most NBA teams have only played four games out of their 82-game schedule thus far. Out of those three games, we have seen 50-point outbursts by Stephen Curry and Blake Griffin, LeBron James choking a game away, Joel Embiid trolling players into getting themselves ejected… the list goes on.

The NBA has gone zero days without being unnecessarily dramatic.

Perhaps the most dramatic events of them all was the all-out brawl between Houston Rockets point guard, Chris Paul, and Los Angeles Lakers point guard, Rajon Rondo on Saturday, Oct. 20.

It is well known that CP3 and Rondo are fierce competitors to the point of even being irritants. To further thicken the plot, these two have a history together. Rondo and CP3 clearly dislike each other, and here is what happened that Saturday night when the stars aligned, creating the perfect recipe for disaster:

It is the Lakers’ first home game of the season, as they host the Houston Rockets. LeBron James is making his debut in a Laker uniform for the first time at Staples Center during the regular season. The whole world is watching.

James Harden drives to the basket for a layup and gets fouled by Brandon Ingram. Harden, being the known flop-actor that he is, complains to the refs anyway. Ingram takes offense to this and shoves Harden; Ingram immediately gets called for a technical foul.

Here is where it gets juicy: Paul and Rondo get into it nearby, some words are said, Paul sticks his finger in Rondos face and boom! Two-piece combos are handed out like Kentucky Fried Chicken. The fun doesn’t stop here, however, as Ingram rushes back over to punch Chris Paul. More madness ensues as both groups have to get separated.

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What started this? After the game, Paul complained on the sidelines that Rondo spit on him, which is a total bush-league move in any situation.

But did this really happen?

NBA twitter exploded that night as multiple videos of the fight from multiple angles were shared. Everybody was watching replays and slow-motion clips like it was a pay-per-view fight at the MGM Grand.

Here is perhaps the best slow-mo clip, showing multiple angles, courtesy of ESPN’s Rachel Nichols:

In this video we can clearly see each punch its glory. But more importantly, we can get a closer look to see if Rondo really did spit on CP3.

Some, like NBA personality Rob Perez, theorized it could have been CP3’s teammate Carmelo Anthony who spit on him as we can see on video that he remains indifferent to the altercation, knowing that it was his fault. There’s a pretty convincing short clip of Perez breaking that down, too:

twitter.com/worldwidewob/status/1053901318970986496

However, I believe that Rondo did, in fact, spit on Chris Paul. Don’t believe me? I’ve done the detective work for you. Here is the decisive evidence, as per The Render on Twitter:

If you see what I see, there is some white matter coming from Rondo’s pursed lips before CP3 juts his face back, wipes his nose off and gets physical.

Nice. It looks like Rondo really did end up spitting in the face of Paul, causing what will inevitably end up being the worst altercation of the NBA season.

Following the fight, the NBA suspended Ingram for four games, Rondo for three and Paul for two.

The plot further thickened in days following the fight. With emotions still running rampant, Rondo defended his case in an interview with ESPN, claiming he did not spit on CP3. Rondo rationalized these claims by insisting that if he really spit on another man, he would be ready expect punches thrown at him on the spot, not a finger in the face. Rondo further aired out his thoughts on Paul for crying wolf about the whole situation:

“Everyone wants to believe Chris Paul is a good guy. They don’t know he’s a horrible teammate. They don’t know how he treats people,” Rondo said to ESPN.

Glen Davis, a former player who has played alongside both Rondo and Paul, weighed in on the situation, defending Rondo’s claims:

After this news surfaced, even the Rockets’ general manager, Daryl Morey got in on some of the fun. While Rondo’s statements about Paul were trending on Twitter, Morey took to the timeline to defend his all-star point guard by posting this cryptic photo of a black kettle and a black pot.

For those unfamiliar with the reference, Morey is referencing the statement: “the pot calling the kettle black,” an idiom on hypocrisy. In this case, Rondo is the pot calling Paul, the kettle, a bad teammate.

For those who still do not get it, Morey essentially just said, “You’re one to talk.” Well played, Morey.

This seems to be the extent of the beef, thus far. CP3 has not officially retaliated to Rondo’s statements to the media. Yet.

The Lakers visit the Rockets in Houston on Dec. 13. That should be primetime television.

I can only pray that the Lakers and Rockets meet in the playoffs, but, for now, I am perfectly content with watching what might be the most entertaining NBA season in recent years.

 

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