Washington Wizards: John Wall, Quincy Acy and a Brief History of Wizards Fights


On Christmas Day, John Wall was dominating. The New York Knicks were losing. Quincy Acy was peeved. You guys all know what happened next.

I think we can all be thankful that the Wall/Acy skirmish didn’t go further than it did – Acy threw a forearm, everyone got broken up and went their separate ways. The Washington Wizards have never been involved in a really huge brawl, but the Christmas Day kerfuffle was just part of a long tradition of Wizards getting into heated disagreements on the court.

Just about every NBA fight can be slotted into one of three categories.

That Was a Cheap Shot, Dude fights

Hard fouls and cheap shots are easily the most common instigators of fights in the NBA. The Malice at the Palace was started when Ron Artest took a shot at Ben Wallace. A flagrant foul by Mardy Collins touched off the great Nuggets/Knicks brawl.

Oftentimes they’re isolated incidents not resulting from any previous bad blood between teams. Basketball is a fast-paced and often-physical game, and wherever large men jump into one another conflict will sometimes ensue. That’s simply the way basketball is, and if you go back long enough, every team has been involved in a tilt or two like this – the Wizards are no exception.

In November of 2010, then-Wizard Hilton Armstrong, a forgettable big man only really notable for having an unusually long neck, pushed Joel Anthony out of the air when the Miami Heat center went up for a dunk. Juwan Howard reacted by shoving Armstrong himself when the Wizard appeared to be attempting to help Anthony up, touching off a brief scuffle. Armstrong was suspended one game.

Two years later, a rookie Bradley Beal flagrantly fouled the Bucks’ Monta Ellis, and a skirmish ensued when Brandon Jennings ran in to shove Beal. Most recently, Paul Pierce clotheslined Jimmy Butler this preseason, leading to some jawing, leading to Pierce giving Joakim Noah the Fingerpoke of Doom, leading to a fight, leading to four Washington Wizards (counting Xavier Silas, who didn’t make the team) getting suspended for the season opener.

Notice that the Wizards started all of these kerfuffles – perhaps Quincy Acy’s forearm shiver was the basketball gods simply evening the score. The Wall/Acy fight fits snugly in this category. Although there was some chippiness to the game, the hard foul came as a surprise, especially considering that Wall and Acy are old acquaintances who once took a recruiting trip to Baylor together.

It wasn’t the first time the Wizards have gotten into a scuffle started by a hard foul, and it won’t be the last.

I’m Not Gonna Take Take More of This From You

The fights in Category #1 are usually sudden, stemming from an incident that occurs with little or no warning. The fights in this category have a little more buildup. Someone’s been annoying you all night long – shoving you a little bit, elbowing you in the side, getting on your nerves until you simply tire of this junk and want to throw down.

Wall’s been in one of these, too, and it was one of the most memorable Washington Wizards scraps in recent history. In March of 2011, Wall was a rookie on a bad team, struggling to make his name around the league. In a game against the Heat at the Verizon Center, Wall got sick and tired of Zydrunas Ilgauskas’ elbows being around his face and swung on him, igniting a scuffle that saw Juwan Howard (him again) and JaVale McGee briefly face off.

Wall, Howard and Ilgauskas were all ejected, and the Wizards point guard was suspended one game – but he earned some respect. Big Z was a 7’3’’ man who, now fully bald, resembled some sort of demonic occultist, but Wall was not afraid.

The next year, Kevin Seraphin had his own moment. After Marcus Camby pushed him down one too many times, Seraphin got fed up and shoved the veteran center right back, earning himself a technical foul and Camby an ejection. (Watch that video for the bro wearing a Bernard King Bullets jersey.)

In a weird way, I look at that particular scuffle as a watershed moment for this Wizards team. Seraphin’s shove showed that the Wizards, even our goofy and lovable #KSLife, were not going to allow themselves to get punked anymore. Hell, Kevin said it himself. Whether the Wizards won or lost that night really didn’t matter. This team was finally showing some backbone.

Finally, the third (and most important) category:

I Simply Dislike You Personally fights

In today’s NBA environment, there aren’t many true rivalries with bad blood anymore. The days of the Bad Boy Pistons are gone, no matter how much Paul Pierce would like to recreate them in DC. But when two teams really don’t like each other, the ensuing scraps can be the most memorable.

In the last decade, the Washington Wizards have been in seven postseason series – five of them against either the Bulls or the Cavaliers. Last year’s Bulls series was a chippy and physical one, and things came to a head in Game 3. After a transition layup, Nene got into it with Jimmy Butler and headbutted him. The pair faced off like prizefighters but were quickly separated.

I can only ponder the pure existential terror that Butler felt in this moment – Nene had him in a Muay Thai clinch and was prepared to dispatch him to the Dark World. As we all remember, Nene was ejected from the game, the only one the Wizards lost in the series, but the Wizards rallied to take Game 4 with the Brazilian big man suspended.

The Wizards and Bulls certainly didn’t seem to like each other, but that rivalry pales in comparison to Washington’s clashes with LeBron James’ Cavaliers in the mid-2000s. There was some real hatred in those series, and it seemed like some of the most heated on-court confrontations were between James and Wizards center Brendan Haywood.

This grainy video is all I can find of the pair’s best showdown, in Game 1 of the 2008 playoffs. Haywood fouls James hard near midcourt, and then stands over the superstar as he argues with the referee. James obviously takes exception to this, and the two teams go at it. This fight was far from the only brouhaha between the two teams, all centering around James.

There was no respect between the Wizards and Cavaliers, either on or off the court. It may be a long time before we see the Wizards in such a rivalry again, but we will see the Wizards in fights again, dozens of them. The NBA may not like it, but that’s simply the way basketball is. It’s only a matter of when.

Next: Top 10 Washington Wizards Moments of 2014