In 1977, a cheap shot that simply became known as “The Punch” occurred in a game between the Los Angeles Lakers and Houston Rockets, and everything changed.
It’s still as hard to watch as it was the first time I saw it. In what was a simple regular season matchup between the Houston Rockets and Los Angeles Lakers on December 9, 1977, things got heated. In the midst of that, one extremely poor decision almost led to the newly announced Hall of Famer Rudy Tomjanovich losing his life.
Sometimes, small incidents can escalate and lead to disasters, which is exactly what happened on that night. It’s tough to fathom what exactly was going on in Lakers forward Kermit Washington‘s head when he decided to punch Tomjanovich, with whom he wasn’t even fighting with at the time.
To find information that hasn’t already been shared all over the internet, I did a deep dive into the incident that involved newspaper articles from that week as well as in-depth accounts of what happened from published books.
The terrible incident, which simply became known as “The Punch”, is still the first thing that comes to many people’s minds when they think of the worst or most violent moments in sports.
I’ll start by breaking down exactly what happened that day, as told by the players on the court themselves in “The Kermit Washington Story”. Their accounts and the actual footage of the punch can be seen here.
Next: No. 3