After initial reports surfaced that Rajon Rondo spit on Rockets point guard Chris Paul, new camera angles show saliva flying out of Rondo’s mouth and on Paul before the brawl broke out.
The heavily anticipated game between the Rockets and Lakers on Saturday night lived up to its expectations, but not for the reasons we saw coming.
The Rockets spoiled LeBron James‘ home debut at Staples Center with a 124-115 win, but a fight in the fourth quarter overshadowed the final results of the game.
It all started after Brandon Ingram, who is usually a mild-mannered player, shoved James Harden from the behind for no apparent reason. Ingram was immediately given a technical foul and he was quickly restrained by teammate Lance Stephenson after he got into the referee’s face.
Shortly afterwards, Rajon Rondo and Chris Paul are seen jawing back and forth as the camera follows Ingram. The next thing you know, Paul puts his finger in Rondo’s face, and then mayhem quickly ensues.
Rondo throws a left hook at Paul and CP3 quickly returns the favor. Then, Ingram runs out of nowhere and lands a cheap shot on Paul. It’s pretty rare to see punches thrown in the NBA, so everyone looked shocked after witnessing the fight, including boxing champion Floyd Mayweather Jr., who sat court side.
Play-by-play announcer, Mike Breen, mentioned on the air that Paul was incensed because Rondo spit on his face. During the game, it was hard to see what happened through the TV cameras, but a recently released camera angle shows Rondo’s slippery antics.
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) October 21, 2018
As you can see from this video, Rondo clearly spits on Paul’s face. Both Ingram and Rondo initiated both incidents and should receive the biggest fines and suspensions. Paul threw a punch, so he will be suspended as well, but he threw a punch in response to Rondo spitting on him, which is at least partly justified.
Sources: NBA has began its investigation into allegations that Rajon Rondo spit in face of Chris Paul last night during Lakers-Rockets game. Will interview both players about the fight and Brandon Ingram about fight, and both teams and the officials.
— Brad Turner (@BA_Turner) October 21, 2018
The league will interview Chris Paul, Rajon Rondo and Brandon Ingram along with each team and the officials from Saturday’s game.
Whatever case Rondo's making, NBA is evaluating a video clip captured courtside that shows saliva/spit shooting from Rondo's mouth onto Chris Paul's face. It appears Rondo will have to sell league on fact that it was unintentional — and that appears to be a tough case to make. https://t.co/ddrhhHuxnN
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) October 21, 2018
Of course, Rondo will claim that he didn’t mean to spit on Paul. Rondo wears a mouth guard, which makes it difficult to accurately spit on someone. However, difficult doesn’t mean impossible, and the footage from the video shows Rondo appearing to intentionally spit on Paul’s face.
The Rockets play the Clippers on Sunday night, so the league will likely hand down their suspensions sometime Sunday evening. Hopefully they get things right and come down harder on Ingram and Rondo and give Paul a lighter suspension.