Houston Rockets coach Ime Udoka and Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James were issued double technicals following a dust-up in the fourth quarter of the Rockets' 107-97 loss on Saturday night. This led to an ejection for the Rockets coach, as it was his second technical of the game.
Udoka had grown frustrated with the Lakers' players for griping about the officiating, prompting to Lakers star to confront him. Once James approached him, there was no backing down.
Following the game, much of the online chatter was about how Udoka should've backed down from James, with many citing his 2-6 record against the four-time MVP during Udoka's playing days. This painted a narrative that Udoka was inferior to James and incapable of defending himself if the incident escalated into something greater.
2004 NBA champion and four-time All-Star Rasheed Wallace pushed back against that narrative on Gil’s Arena.
NBA champion Rasheed Wallace delivers message to LeBron James stans following verbal altercation with Houston Rockets coach Ime Udoka.
“I f-k with Ime. That’s my guy. I knew Ime when he was in high school/college when I was in Portland. He went to Portland State.
He can ball. He’s got a basketball mind, real talk. On everything.
That was a great challenge right there. That would’ve been a hell of a fight. I’d pay to see that because Ime ain’t no punk.
That was the type of player he was. He took that challenge. You wasn’t gonna bust his ass for 20 or 25 points. Every play was gonna be hard for you.
I saw him as sort of like that Raja Bell. Raja hung his hat on defense.
That’s how he was. I’d pay to see that fight."
First off, let’s acknowledge something. This was never going to escalate into a fight. That almost never happens in an NBA game.
Especially in today’s game.
But Udoka surely wasn’t backing down from James on Saturday and based on Wallace’s account and long-time familiarity with the 47-year-old Rockets coach, he would’ve been ready if James wanted to take it further.