Houston Rockets: 3 Upsetting revelations about “The Punch” incident

NBA basketball (Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images)
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Houston Rockets
E.C. Coleman #12 shoots over Kevin Kunnert (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images) /

3. Kermit Seems to Blame Kevin Kunnert for the Initial Incident

The chain of events all started with a missed shot that led to a fight for the rebound between Kermit Washington, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Kevin Kunnert. The ball ends up in the hands of Rockets guard John Lucas on a fast break.

Washington, in an effort to get back in the play, admits to fouling Kunnert by pulling his hip back to propel himself forward. Kunnert, in turn, responds with an elbow to Kermit’s face, according to Washington. Washington also attests that Kunnert followed that up with a blow to his face once the two were facing each other.

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When asked about it years later, Kunnert had a different opinion. “I didn’t start it,” he said. “Kermit has had a smear campaign against me, but I didn’t do anything. I resent it being pinned on me. I don’t feel guilty.”

Regardless of how that part went down, it led to the two taking swings at each other near halfcourt. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, at 7-2, is able to separate the two men, opting to grab Kunnert to prevent any further blows between him and Washington.

Calvin Murphy explains what happened next. “Rudy T, who’s the captain of the Rockets, he’s running toward Jabbar and Kevin to calm Kevin down,” begins Murphy. “Kermit, who’s backing up, looks over his shoulder. He stops, plants and I saw the punch coming. Rudy was running and saw the punch coming also and threw his hands up to protect.”

In what still remains one of the most violent, horrific moments in sports history, Washington then landed a brutal punch on an unsuspecting Tomjanovich.

Calvin Murphy recalls Tomjanovich being so disoriented when he woke back up that he asked if the scoreboard had fallen on him.

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