Culture / Sporting Life

Rockets’ Fight Night in L.A. Exposes LeBron’s Lakers as Crybabies: Floyd Mayweather Watches as Paul-Rondo Fist Work Completely Overshadows a Lost King

BY // 10.21.18

The Houston Rockets seemed to be largely sleepwalking into the new season, almost like they still hadn’t quite recovered from the knowledge they’d have dethroned the Warriors with a healthy Chris Paul. Then, with Floyd Mayweather in the front row, and everyone in Los Angeles fawning over LeBron James, fight night broke out at the Staples Center Saturday night — and everything suddenly became right.

It all starts when Brandon Ingram — the Lakers’ ever overhyped third-year forward — loses his mind over being faked out by James Harden’s stop-start feints. When Ingram is called for a clear foul, he goes out of his way to push Harden from behind.

Before long, the resulting hubbub draws Paul and new Lakers point guard Rajon Rondo into the mix. Now, Paul and Rondo have long gotten along about as well as Ramsay Bolton and Theon Greyjoy. Paul pushes Rondo’s face, Rondo starts swinging and Paul starts swinging right back.

Then, Ingram comes rushing back in throwing punches from behind, like he’s a member of Khabib’s entourage or something.

Paul, Rondo and Ingram are all ejected from the game, LeBron’s breathlessly overhyped first home game as a Laker — which happens to be a one-point game with 4:13 left in the fourth quarter.

There will be charges that Rondo spit at Paul — and strong denials from the Lakers’ side that the video shows that’s a fabrication. Regardless, Paul, Rondo and Ingram are all headed for sure suspensions — with Ingram’s liable to be the longest of all.

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For the Rockets, it’s no giant deal. Mike D’Antoni needs to rest the 33-year-old Paul as much as possible this season. A NBA league office mandated “rest” works fine with that.

LeBron Loves Paul First

On the other side, LeBron must be wondering when he’ll ever get to play with grownups again. The already 0-2 Lakers are no lock to even make the playoffs in the NBA’s loaded Western Conference. Now, a flawed roster will be without two key pieces in the near future.

No wonder why LeBron goes over to his old friend Paul and tries to counsel him rather than any of his own teammates in the wake of the silly incident. LeBron with his arms wrapped around Paul, leading him away, says plenty.

Ingram completely overreacts to Harden beating him — and comes across like the ultimate crybaby.

While the amped up Los Angeles crowd breaks into a chant of “Houston Sucks! Houston Sucks!” after the fight, the Rockets gather themselves and take off. They roll on to an emphatic 124-115 win, outscoring the Lakers 15-7 post fisticuffs.

Harden finds P.J. Tucker for a wide-open corner 3, pulls up and drops in a three of his own on a rim bounce and converts a running layup in back-to-back-back Rockets possessions that decide things.

It’s like the adults simply came out to play, leaving LeBron and his kids in their fumes.

“It escalated really quick,” Harden says of the fight in his postgame ESPN interview. “Besides that, for us as a basketball club, to get our first win on the road versus the Lakers is pretty cool.”

If anything, Ingram awoke the Rockets out of their early season slumber.

“I saw it from a distance,” Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni says of the fight in his own televised postgame media presser. “I wasn’t getting in there.”

Why would anybody with a brain?

Even a professional boxer like Mayweather knows it’s better to play defense. The Rockets are professional winners who know what they’re doing.

LeBron is left with a bunch of crybabies — and some of them aren’t even young (see Rondo, age 32). Some first home game.

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