Oakland Raiders head coach Tom Cable is in the news for allegedly slugging defensive assistant Randy Hanson in the jaw a few weeks ago. Sure, Cable's punch was probably the strongest hit any Raider will make this season, but is it really all that unusual for teammates to mix it up? Here are a few more examples of fisticuffs between teammates:
1. Michael Jordan vs. Steve Kerr
Although Jordan and Kerr were teammates on the second great Bulls championship run from 1996 to 1998, they didn't always get along. Kerr and Jordan didn't agree on the best solution to the labor woes that plagued the NBA at the time, and Kerr felt the other Bulls were too deferential to Jordan. It didn't help that the two guards often defended each other in practice. At one particularly frisky scrimmage in 1995 the two players began pushing off of each other, and eventually Kerr decided he'd had enough and came up swinging. As Kerr later put it, "I knew I had two choices. Either let it go and be obedient to Michael forever, or fight and probably get my ass kicked. I picked a real winner for my adult fighting debut."
Jordan gave Kerr a black eye in the dustup, but His Airness was quick to reconcile with the sharpshooter. By the time Kerr got home, Jordan had left an apologetic answering machine message, and the two got along swimmingly after that.
2. Nap Lajoie vs. Elmer Flick
Don't be fooled into thinking teammates putting up their dukes is a recent phenomenon. Hall of Famer Lajoie may have been one of the greatest second basemen of all time, but his longtime teammate on the Philadelphia Phillies and Cleveland Naps, Elmer Flick, was no slouch, and made the Hall of Fame himself. Lajoie and Flick had long, productive careers playing together, but one day in May 1900 things didn't look so rosy.
When the Phillies took the field for their game on May 31, 1900, stars Lajoie and Flick were both missing from the lineup. Where were they? Apparently recovering from knocking the tar out of each other. Reports vary on what prompted the fight - some say it came when the fashionable Flick insulted the slovenly Lajoie's threads, while others claim that Flick enraged Lajoie by using the second baseman's bat "“ but it's clear that the two knocked the stuffing out of each other. Flick gave Lajoie a black eye and a cut on his face, and Lajoie allegedly socked Flick's noggin so hard that he broke a bone in his punching hand.
Although Flick allegedly threatened to leave the Phillies immediately after the fight, he and Lajoie eventually reconciled, and Lajoie served as Flick's manager with Cleveland from 1905 to 1909.
3. Ken Lucas vs. Steve Smith
Perhaps the most memorable teammate fight in recent memory came during the Carolina Panthers' 2008 training camp. Star wideout Steve Smith and cornerback Ken Lucas routinely lined up across from each other in scrimmages, and although the two men were known to talk a bit of trash across the line, things got out of hand while they were watching a special teams drill from the sidelines. The jawing turned into a fight, and the diminutive Smith broke Lucas' nose and gave him a black eye. Although Smith quickly apologized, the Panthers suspended the mercurial receiver for two games. (Maybe because this wasn't a first-time thing for Smith; he'd also punched teammate Anthony Bright during a film session in 2002.)
Lucas eventually forgave Smith completely, and when Smith scored his first touchdown of the 2008 season, he gave the ball to Lucas.
4. Kieron Dyer vs. Lee Bowyer
At least most of the other throwdowns on this list happened behind closed doors. Dyer and Bowyer, teammates on the English soccer team Newcastle United, took their disagreement to the pitch. Late in a 2005 game with Aston Villa, teammates Bowyer and Dyer started going at it in the middle of the game. Although it wasn't clear exactly what started the punch-up, the two had to be separated; even concerned Aston Villa players helped pull Bowyer and Dyer apart. Both players received red cards and suspensions, and since Bowyer threw the first punch he had to go through the British court system for disturbing public order. Have a look for yourself:
5. Scott Skiles vs. Shaquille O'Neal
You've got to hand it to retired point guard Scott Skiles; he didn't back down from anyone. In 1994, he even went out of his way to irritate a teammate who was nearly a foot taller and 150 pounds heavier than he was, a young second-year center named Shaquille O'Neal. Shaq later said that Skiles annoyed him because, "He was like a little gnat. He just used to talk too much. Talk about nothing."
At a practice in Los Angeles during a road trip, Shaq eventually got so fed up with Skiles' chirping that he took a swing at the point guard. Reports vary on whether the Skiles-Shaq fisticuffs actually sprang from a fight the Big Aristotle was having with backup Larry Krystkowiak, but O'Neal and Skiles later admitted that Shaq connected with a punch at Skiles, then wrestled the smaller man to the gym floor. Once teammates pulled them apart there was no bad blood, though, and the two men now speak of each other in fairly glowing terms.
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Obviously, these are just a few instances of pugilistic teammates. Do you have any favorites we missed? Michael Barrett vs. Carlos Zambrano, perhaps? Bill Romanowski vs. Marcus Williams?