Here’s an odd action we apparently must add to the list of ejectable infractions in the NBA: getting punched in the head and trying to diffuse the situation.
Halfway through the second quarter, Arron Afflalo punched him right in the side of the head. I mean, he really squared up and unfurled a haymaker.
Nemanja Bjelica & Arron Afflalo Fight: A punch was really thrown in a NBA game! pic.twitter.com/EhJ1GAwbuC
— Ballislife.com (@Ballislife) January 17, 2018
Here’s a clearer view of the connection.
Bjelica responded by calmly putting the aggressor into a headlock and holding up his other arm as if to say, “Trust me, refs, I don’t want to get punched in the face just as much—maybe even more—than you don’t want me to get punched in the face.”
Here’s where the spat began.
Arron Afflalo and Nemanja Bjelica’s beef started simmering way before the haymaker. pic.twitter.com/RJW37CvMKA
— ESPN (@espn) January 17, 2018
Still, the Timberwolves forward couldn’t escape the wrath of the NBA officials’ eager whistle—both players were ejected for receiving a second technical foul following the skirmish. Though I’m not really sure what Bjelica could have done to avoid such a punishment.
If getting punched in the head earns the victim a technical foul no matter how he reacts, the Cleveland Cavaliers, should they even reach the NBA Finals again, might want to pick up Dahntay Jones once more and sic him on Kevin Durant twice in the first minute of each game of the series.
“What can I say?” Bjelica said after Orlando’s 108-102 victory. “We were hitting each other during the game, [on] offense, defense. I don’t want to feel like a victim here. That’s part of the game. He took a swing at me. I was just trying to protect myself, first of all, and to help him, to calm him down, because he was wild.
“I don’t know what’s wrong with that guy. At that point, if you attack me like that, I have to protect myself and my family.”