The Golden State Warriors and the Indiana Pacers don’t particularly have a rivalry. In fact, they had a mutually beneficial trade relationship for a while. Indiana helped build the We Believe Warriors by sending Stephen Jackson and Al Harrington to Oakland in 2007, and even took Mike Dunleavy Jr. off their hands. Ten years earlier, the Pacers reached the NBA Finals and took Michael Jordan’s Last Dance Bulls team to the brink thanks to swapping Erick Dampier for Chris Mullin. And who could forget the monumental Vonteego Cummings-for-Jeff Foster swap of 1999, which eventually netted the Dubs future Pacer Troy Murphy?
But there was one time when the Pacers-Warriors matchup developed some real heat. On February 26, 2013, the Pacers were leading by ten points midway through the 4th quarter when Roy Hibbert and Pacer-at-heart David Lee got into a shoving match under the basket. Lee pushed Hibbert, Hibbert pushed Lee, and then Jarrett Jack ran in to break up the fight. Unfortunately, Lance Stephenson also ran into the fray.
“Born Ready” may have been acting as a peacemaker, but his presence alone tends to heighten tensions. Lance Stephenson trying to separate combatants is like pouring water on a grease fire: The right idea, but combustible in practice. Then Steph Curry ran in and tried to shove Hibbert, who tossed him aside as easily as you’d expect for a guy a foot taller and 100 pounds heavier than Curry. Klay Thompson jumped in, George Hill grappled with him, and the brawl spilled into the crowd behind the basket.
Andris Biedrins waded in as the enforcer, but in typical Biedrins fashion, he wasn’t able to land any of his shots. Future Warriors David West and amateur MMA fighter also came in and predictably shoved everybody around. The fight mainly petered out because everybody sort of fell down, though by the general standard of an NBA fight - two guys who don’t want to fight yelling at each other from a safe distance - this was a veritable donnybrook.
Hibbert said he had no idea it was Curry he pushed: “Seriously, I didn’t even feel him. I saw some light-skinned guy. I don’t know if it was Klay Thompson or Steph Curry, I just knew there was a light-skinned guy by me.”
Hibbert was ejected, while Lee, Curry, Thompson, and West all received technical fouls. The Warriors couldn’t take advantage of Hibbert’s absence despite Curry’s 38 points, as David West went on a personal 6-0 run to put the game away. Lee and Hibbert got one-game suspensions, while Curry and Stephenson got fined.
The biggest victim was Klay Thompson, who got fined $35,000 by the league, and then got his allowance docked by his dad. At the time, 23-year-old Klay’s finances were handled by his parents, so he got double-fined by his father Mychal Thompson, who was quoted as saying, “You idiot!” Thankfully, Klay is working out in the Bay during the Warriors’ five-game road trip, so there should be no repeat of the Rumble In The Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Although if there is a fight, let’s hope it doesn’t involve potential Warrior Domantas Sabonis.