The Hawks' fists are flying

April, 11, 2008

I've been covering the NBA now for 13 years and I've never seen teammates get into any altercation at practice or pre-game shootaround.

Until now.

ZaZa Pachulia and Solomon Jones went after each other at today's Atlanta Hawks shootaround at Madison Square Garden. (The Hawks play the Knicks tonight).

Fortunately, both players are sorely lacking ring skills so each emerged from the minor dustup injury-free.

Here's how it went down:

The Hawks had just broken their huddle at the end of the shootaround, and players began walking to the seats to put on their sweats. Suddenly, I heard some player yell, "What's going on?" Then, I looked up and Pachulia and Jones were swinging at each other on the sidelines.

Again, nothing was landing.

Marvin Williams ran over and got between them and pulled Jones away. Josh Smith corralled Pachulia.

ZaZa was clearly the aggressor and it took a considerable amount of intervention to calm him down.

As Jones was being dragged away, he kept yelling, "He just walked up on me."

Smith said later that ZaZa had cursed at Jones during the shootaround, but no one seemed to know the reason for the scuffle.

One witness joked that the bad karma surrounding the Knicks was to blame, saying "Is there something in the water here?"

With ZaZa still upset and even looking as if he might go after Jones again, Coach Mike Woodson yelled, "Z, get dressed and get out. Just get out of here."

Woodson, whose team is on the verge of making the playoffs for the first time since 1999, laughed about the incident moments later.

"Let's not beat up on each other," he said, chuckling. "We'll get through this."

Mike Bibby, who has emerged as one of the team's leaders since being traded from Sacramento, said:

"You want to always go after the other team, but sometimes you're around guys so much that stuff like this happens. We're with each other eight months a year. I mean, brothers fight."

Fights between teammates happen quite often in the NBA, so this is not a huge deal. But because of strict rules forbidding the media from practices, they're rarely witnessed by anyone outside of the team.

Well, I witnessed a skirmish today, and all I can say is, both players should stick to basketball because they made Larry Johnson vs. Alonzo Mourning look like Ali-Frazier.



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