I just watched a hard fought game between the LA Sparks and Detroit Shock that ended in a real fight. The ending was horrible with three players and one coach ejected and, I’m sure, lots of unwelcome attention from the press which ordinarily completely ignores the WNBA. Gosh, maybe now even the New York Times will cover a game.

I was most shocked by Detroit Assistant Coach Mahorn, who is male and well over 7ft tall 6ft 10inches, pushing over Lisa Leslie. He needs to be suspended for the rest of the season. You do not touch the opposing team’s players ever. Under any circumstances.

But mostly I blame the referees. There were several incidents leading up to the fight between Parker and Pierson. Cheryl Ford should’ve been T’d up. So should Coach Laimbeer. And Candace Parker. The officials let things get out of control. They let the nasty atmosphere boil over into violence. Can the refs be suspended for the rest of the season? I’d like to see that.

And now several players are going to be out for a bunch of games. Plenette Pierson, Candace Parker and Delisha Milton-Jones for sure and most likely Muriel Page and Deanna Nolan as well. Not to mention Cheryl Ford getting injured trying to keep Pierson from attacking more LA players.

I hate this crap. This is not why I follow the WNBA. If I want to watch people brawling I can watch the thugby (otherwise known as Rugby League) or the NBA. The New York Liberty plays the LA Sparks on Friday. It’s not going to be as good a game without Parker and Milton-Jones.

And all because the officials couldn’t put a lid on Laimbeer and Ford and Parker. When a coach is screaming abuse at you, when players have to be held back, when players are going after the ball long after the whistle is blown—T them up. And if they do it again—throw them out. As I saw tonight that aggressive nastiness spreads.

I really hope this is the WNBA’s first and last brawl.


  1. Jessica on #

    Haha, thugby! My sport of choice is rugby league and there was a massive brawl during the Melbourne Storm v Dragons game on Monday in which three players got sin-binned and a player was sent off. It was AMAZING. I live for that kind of thing.

    But a male coach getting in on it and pushing a female player? What the hell? That IS outrageous.

  2. Justine on #

    This was not fun at all. Just sad making.

    And, yeah, Mahorn needs to go down for this. Not just a male coach pushing a female player. A HUGE male coach who’s almost as wide as he is tall, pushing a female player, many inches shorter than he and like a 100 kilos lighter.

  3. Dave on #

    As you probably guessed, that’s my AP story that you linked to above.

    Rick Mahorn is distraught over this – he was genuinely trying to get people away from the fight. He’s the one who went into the crowd to try to stop Ron Artest during the Pistons-Pacers brawl.

    “I was trying to protect – the whole game, the integrity of the game. The WNBA is very special to me because I have four daughters. I don’t even raise my hand to them, and I would never push a woman. This game, I love this game too much.”

    But you’re right, he made a massive mistake – he should have done what Michael Cooper was doing, and only grabbed his own players.

    Cooper was stunned after the game – he said that he was just glad that no one had gotten hurt, and I had to break it to him that he was mistaken. He hadn’t even seen Ford on the floor, or getting taken off on the wheelchair.

    This wasn’t as ugly as the Pistons-Pacers brawl – I was in the middle of that one, too – but this was sad and nasty.

    I’m sure I’ll make a long, long blog post about this in an hour or so, but right now I’m done writing and I want to go home.

  4. B-ballGirl on #

    I agree with this article….except for one thing. I don’t agree with how you call the NBA the “thugby”. Just because the majority of the NBA is black doesn’t mean that it’s full of thugs. Same with the WNBA. If you ever watch hockey, you’d notice that fights happen all the time in that sport. Yet because only white people play hockey, fighting is acceptable? To call the NBA the “thugby” is just racist. And if you don’t eve watch the NBA then how would you know that it’s full of thugs anyways?

  5. Justine on #

    Dave: I figured the story was yours. Am I right assuming all AP stories about the Shock are?

    I’m sure Mahorn is upset but, wow, he should not have done that. It looked terrible on TV and didn’t get any better with each successive replay.

    I look forward to reading your post. Do give us the link when you’re done. Be good to get your perspective—and eyewitness account. I particularly want to know what you thought of the officiating.

    It was sad and nasty. Especially as it had been an exciting (though poorly officiated) game up till then.

  6. Justine on #

    B-ballGirl: We’re having a cultural misunderstanding. “Thugby” was me referring to Australian Rugby League. See Jessica’s comment above. As a fellow Australian she understood. I’ve now edited the sentence to make it clearer.

    I would never call the NBA thugby. For starters it doesn’t make sense. Plus it’s not nearly as violent as rugby league. I mentioned those two sports (well leagues) because they’re the two sports I watch that sometimes have brawls. Rugby MUCH more often than the NBA.

    I agree a hundred per cent that ice hockey is much more violent, which is why I never watch it.

  7. sassy on #

    I hate to admit it but (like jessica) I watched the Melbourne vs St George fight in monday’s league game and LOVED IT. of course, if anyone asks, I am completely anti-violence in all it’s forms *cough*

    but in that game, like the one you watched by the sound of it, the reffing laid the foundation for the fight.

    it was completely obvious something was goind to happen, because the atmosphere was charged from the very beginning, and the ref wasn’t clever or experienced enough to take charge and get it under control.

    he let all the niggling go on and eventually it exploded into all out biff.

  8. sassy on #

    and for some reason I left a sentence of the end of that – but it was going to be that refs in general really need better training, in all sports.

  9. Dave on #

    If you click on my name, you should get to my blog post.

    I definitely blame the officials – Parker and Ford had been getting more and more physical throughout the game, and they ignored it. It was completely ridiculous that they didn’t do anything when those two had to be separated, and the fight started right after that.

    With Detroit’s highly physical style, there’s going to be the potential for something like this if the officials let things go. Laimbeer and Mahorn coach like they played, Ford plays like her dad, Pierson isn’t afraid of elbowing someone in the head, and Elaine Powell … well, do a Youtube search on Elaine Powell, and you’ll find her most famous moment.

    It was an ugly night, and I suspect Mahorn’s going to be in more trouble than basketball people realize. The reaction to this isn’t going to be like it was when it was the Bad Boys in an NBA fight.

  10. Dave on #

    The Shock just announced that Cheryl Ford tore her ACL during the fight and will miss the rest of the season.

  11. Carol (Mystics Fan) on #

    I’ve been heartsick since first hearing about this incident. I took my 14-year-old godson to that horrible Mystic-Shock game where Elaine Powell punched Coco Miller earning Powell a five game suspension.

    Powell also twice punched a Polish player who was already on the ground after a hard foul. Nolan joined the fight then as well, dropping a basketball on the prone woman’s head. This time, she tackles Parker.

    I also dislike watching the notorious elbow jabs of Lisa Leslie.

    For those reasons, I’ve never taken children to see a Sparks or Shock game. The WNBA promots a family atmosphere and then permits atrocious behavior: Bill Laimbeer speaks abusively to the refs and his team. His disgust is palpable and I do not want children in my life to see such behavior.

    The refs make mistakes but the players and coaches argue with too much vitriol.

    I have been moved by Mahorn’s sincere regret. He did make a mistake but the bigger mistake was the Detroit coaching staff enabling and encouraging thuggish behavior for years.

    I hope the suspensions are long and serious for everyone involved.

  12. Dave on #

    Last night could have gotten a lot worse had Elaine Powell been in uniform. As it was, Laimbeer had to get her back onto the bench when she came flying toward the fight.

  13. Jay on #

    Mahorn is not and never has been “well over 7ft tall…” He’s 6’10.
    Leslie is 6’5.
    I appreciate your point of view, but let’s not make things up.

  14. Justine on #

    Dave: That’s horrible news. I can’t believe she went out and played on it after it tore. I almost forigve her for elbowing Janel McCarville in the stomach.

    Carol: Yeah, what you said. I am no Bill Laimbeer fan. I can see why Swin Cash and Ruth Riley got as far away as they could.

    Sorry about the game today. You know, that the Liberty won . . . Well, okay, not really. But it’s great to see the Mystics playing well again. They looked great beating Seattle. I is Alanna Beard fan.

    Jay: Well, I am a fiction writer. Corrected.

  15. Maria Mejia on #

    Annoying to have Marianne Stanley incorrectly identified as Laura Beeman. Especially from those who cover the women’s basketball games. It was Marianne Stanley, the brunette, who tried to fend off the Matterhorn. Beeman’s the blonde.

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