After watching the fourth quarter of last night’s explosive Los Angeles Lakers and Houston Rockets game live, and after watching the ensuing fight(s) from approximately 17,000 different angles, the single most entertaining thing is how Chris Paul turns into an impression of Kevin Hart doing an impression of someone about to fight, and how this happens 10 seconds before he gets stole on by Rajon Rondo. It comes at around the 7:15 mark of this video:
I’m not quite sure if he was saying, “You ain’t gonna do shit.” But his body language was. And, well, his body language lied to him.
Lonzo Ball’s aggressively lightskint jaunt to the skirmish, seen at around 7:25. His entire steez was a long-ass sigh.
Carmelo Anthony doing the “peacemaker” thing where you hem up the nigga who’s fighting your boy and drag him 50 yards away. Because, again, it’s all about making the peace.
The referee at 7:46 basically saying, “Yeah, I’mma go over here now. Y’all don’t pay me enough for all this.”
And, of course, there’s Brandon Ingram, whose shove of the interminably shoveable James Harden started all of this. Perhaps my feelings about him and his game are compromised because I see him and just see a tall-ass rapper trying to hoop—Wiz Khalifa with an unreliable corner three. But I just got some strong “little brother tired of getting bullied by his big brothers” vibes from him. With each push and punch you could picture him saying, “I HAVE HAIR ON MY CHEST NOW! AND MOMMA SAID TO HIT YOU BACK THE NEXT TIME YOU HIT ME!”
Despite all of this, I’m most intrigued by what LeBron James did. And even more intrigued by what happens in the Lakers’ locker room now.
If you follow the NBA, you know that LeBron and Chris Paul (and Carmelo Anthony) are very close friends. You also know that Chris Paul and Rajon Rondo don’t fuck with each other at all. And, considering LeBron’s heated rivalry with the Boston Celtics when Rondo was their point guard, it’s not a leap to assume that while they’re teammates now, they’re probably not the best of friends. (To be fair, the famously surly Rondo just isn’t one of those cats who’s friends with half the league. In this context, he’s the Anti-Bron.)
Still, the way LeBron had his arm around Chris Paul as he separated him from Rondo communicated (to me, at least): “While y’all are my coworkers, this is my friend.” If you skip to the 0:55 point of the video below, it looked like two niggas walking on a pier and making brunch plans.
Considering who and how LeBron is, it wasn’t a surprise. But I also wouldn’t be surprised if his teammates saw that and questioned his commitment to them. (Which they should! Not because of this, but because if LeBron is your teammate and your team is underperforming, guess who might finish their season with the Kings? Or the Magic? Or with CSKA Moscow? Not LeBron.)
Of course, I’m not saying that Bron should’ve jumped in and suplexed Chris Paul. Just that there’s a shitload of choices on the spectrum between suplex and brunch stroll on a pier, and perhaps LeBron should’ve chosen one of them.
Updated, Sunday, Oct. 21, 2018, 4:28 p.m. EST: In what might end up being the NBA’s Zapruder film, enhanced footage reveals that Rajon Rondo does appear to spit on Chris Paul.
This ... changes things for me a bit. I thought Chris Paul was overreacting —that maybe someone accidentally spit or sweat on him. But, yeah. Rondo catches him with sneak spittle. The way LeBron chose to defuse things with brunch plans is still weird. But you could say LeBron was just doing everything he could to calm Chris Paul down and protect his teammates. I’m not saying that. But you could!