Commentary

Sucker Punch Hall of Fame

Originally Published: September 4, 2009
By Patrick Hruby and DJ Gallo | Page 2

Congratulations to you Mr. LeGarrette Blount! Your takedown of Boise State linebacker Byron Hout has landed you at the top of the nomination pool for the Sucker Punch Hall of Fame.

Hold on, don't get too excited. You're in some elite company. Check out who else you're up against:

1. Kermit Washington punches Rudy Tomjanovich

The crime: When an on-court brawl broke out during a 1977 Houston Rockets-Los Angeles Lakers game, then-Rockets forward Tomjanovich ran toward the scrum. Already there was Lakers forward Washington, whose surprise roundhouse punch fractured Tomjanovich's face and skull, leaving the future NBA coach unconscious and nearly dead in a pool of his own blood.

The time: The league gave Washington a 60-day, 26-game suspension, at the time the longest punitive layoff in league history; Tomjanovich won a $3.2 million judgment against the Lakers, despite suing for $2.4 million.

Random fact: When Tomjanovich came to, he asked if the scoreboard had fallen on him; while heading toward Houston's locker room, he came across the ejected Washington and nearly got into a second altercation -- a fight that almost certainly would have killed him, given that Tomjanovich had spinal fluid leaking from a skull fracture into his mouth.


2. Marty McSorley clubs Donald Brashear

The crime: With seconds remaining in a Boston Bruins-Vancouver Canucks game in 2000, McSorely hit rival enforcer Brashear in his helmet with a swinging hockey stick. Brashear fell backward and suffered a severe concussion when his head hit the ice.

The time: McSorely was suspended for the remainder of the NHL season and postseason, missing 23 games; more significantly, he was convicted of assault with a weapon and sentenced to 18 months probation.

Random fact: Former teammate Wayne Gretzky testified on McSorely's behalf during his trial; following his conviction, the NHL extended McSorely's suspension to an entire year, the longest in league history. He never played in the NHL again.


3. Reggie Evans emasculates Chris Kaman

The crime: During a 2006 Los Angeles Clippers-Denver Nuggets playoff game, Evans appeared to put his hands under Kaman's shorts, grab their (ahem) contents and -- in Kaman's words -- "pull hard."

The time: Kaman's in-game response of shoving Evans earned Kaman a technical foul; the NBA slapped Evans with a flagrant foul and a $10,000 fine, but no suspension. Seriously. No justice, no peace.

Random fact: Kaman later said he showed "restraint" by not immediately punching Evans. That's an understatement.


4. Pedro Martinez trash-tosses Don Zimmer

The crime: In Game 3 of the 2003 ALCS, the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox engaged in two bench-clearing scrums; during the second, 72-year-old Yankees bench coach Zimmer unwisely took a run at Red Sox pitcher Martinez, who grabbed Zimmer with two hands and deposited him on the ground.

The time: Despite New York mayor Michael Bloomberg's call for Martinez to be arrested, MLB did not issue any suspensions -- though Martinez was fined $50,000 and Zimmer $5,000 for mixing it up. Also, Zimmer's tearful apology -- which came while wearing Dr. Huxtable's sweater from the "Theo Gets an Earring" episode of "The Cosby Show" -- was probably punishment enough.

Random fact: After the game, Zimmer was placed on a stretcher, carried to an ambulance and brought to a hospital ... even though he only suffered a small cut on the bridge of his nose.


5. Chris Paul jewel-jabs Julius Hodge

The crime: After jostling for paint position with Hodge during a Wake Forest-NC State game in 2005, Paul casually punches his opponent between the legs.

The time: Though Hodge crumpled to the floor, no foul was called. Video replays later led the Demon Deacons to suspend Paul for a whopping one game.

Random fact: Steve Hodge, Julius' older brother and teammate, had to be escorted from the arena after he walked onto the court to yell at the referees and the Wake Forest bench.


6. The Ligue Boys go wildin' on Tom Gamboa

The crime: At a Chicago White Sox game, two shirtless fans -- 34-year-old William Ligue Jr. and his 15-year-old son -- left their seats, ran onto the field and attacked Kansas City Royals coach Tom Gamboa, tackling him from behind and punching him repeatedly before players and security stopped the assault.

The time: Ligue, a recovering alcoholic and drug addict, received 30 months probation after pleading guilty to two counts of aggravated battery. He also was required to perform community service, attend parenting classes -- no snickering! -- remain in a substance abuse program and abide by a curfew for 90 days.

Random fact: After Ligue's son violated probation, a judge recommended he be sent to a prison boot camp. So it's possible he later appeared on "Maury."


7. Christian Laettner stomps on Aminu Timberlake

The crime: In a 1992 NCAA East Regional Final considered by many to be the greatest college basketball ever played, Duke's Laettner scored on an under-the-basket play, then purposefully stepped on the chest of Kentucky's Timberlake.

The time: Laettner earned a technical foul. Not to mention eternal infamy in the state of Kentucky.

Random fact: Laettner first used the excuse that he was trying to find his balance, but later admitted on camera "that kid Timberlake has pushed me down in the game, maybe one or two minutes before. I just made a metal note to try to get him back." Now that's the Chicago way! (Also, it's a pity Laettner didn't bring the same attitude to professional basketball. A pity if you're a Minnesota Timberwolves fan, that is).


8. Zinedine Zidane headbutts Marco Materazzi

The crime: During extra time in a taut, tense 2006 World Cup final between France and Italy, Zidane and Materazzi exchanged words. The Frenchman then head-butted the Italian defender in the chest, like Earl Campbell head-butting Isaiah Robertson.

The time: Zidane was sent off with a red card, the better to watch France lose 5-3 in a subsequent shootout. D'oh!

Random fact: Zidane claimed that Materazzi insulted his father. Three British newspapers hired lip readers and claimed that Materazzi called Zidane "the son of a terrorist whore." Materazzi admitted he insulted Zidane -- but not Zidane's mother -- and later revealed he disparaged Zidane's sister. Materazzi later filed successful lawsuits against the British papers, and also published a joke book for charity titled "What I Really Told Zidane." Got all that?


9. Woody Hayes slugs Charlie Bauman

The crime: Cheap shots in college football are nothing new. And they're not just the province of players. During the 1978 Gator Bowl, Ohio State coach Woody Hayes watched as Clemson lineman Bauman picked off a short pass from Buckeyes quarterback Art Schlichter and rumbled upfield before being knocked out of bounds on the Ohio State sideline. For reasons still unknown (Bad hair day? Solar wind? Playing in the Gator Bowl?) Hayes proceeded to punch Bauman in the throat and had to be restrained by his players, one of whom he tried to go after.

The time: Hayes was fired the next morning and never coached again.

Random fact: Over the course of his career, Hayes attacked a cameraman, attempted to punch a sportswriter, challenged a rival coach to a fight, charged another cameraman and occasionally struck himself in the head. All of which makes him an equal opportunity slugger.


10. USA water polo player Elsie Wildes scores goal, knockout

The crime: With the score tied 4-4 between the US and Canada in the water polo gold medal match at the 2009 FINA world championships, Elsie Wildes scores to give Team USA the lead. Moments later she lands a hard right to the jaw of Canadian captain Krystina Alogbo.

The time: Wildes was thrown out of the match -- or "excluded" in water polo parlance. But her punch was determined to be "violence" and not "brutality," so Team USA only swam a woman down for 20 seconds. A brutality ruling would have resulted in a penalty shot for Team Canada and the US would have been at a disadvantage for four minutes.

Random fact: The punchee, Alogbo, was "exluded" later in the game for blocking a US penalty shot attempt. Also, water polo has things called "violence" and "brutality"? AWESOME.


11. Izzy Alcantara inspires "Kill Bill" movies

The crime: After getting brushed back on back-to-back pitches by Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Red Barons pitcher Blas Cedeno, Izzy Alcantara of the Pawtucket Red Sox decides many will pay for the misdeeds of the one. First, he takes out the catcher with a preemptive strike karate kick to the face -- BOOM! -- then it's out to the pitcher's mound where he fails to connect with a roundhouse right on Cedeno -- WHOOSH! And then he waits to take on anyone who would dare approach him. Come and get it!

The time: Alcantara was suspended by the International League for six games and was stripped of his spot on the All-Star team.

Random fact: Alcantara had two brief stops in the majors with the Brewers and Red Sox. Also, a few years after this incident, he briefly played for a professional team in Taiwan. But he was probably really there to hone his already lethal martial arts skills.


12. Will Smith cold cocks an alien fighter pilot

The crime: Following a furious humans-vs.-aliens dogfight in the 1996 film "Independence Day," pilot Smith approached a crash-landed extraterrestrial fighter, opened the cockpit and punched the tentacle-flailing inhabitant square in the face.

The time: Smith went on to become one of the biggest stars in Hollywood. WELCOME TO EARF!

Random fact: The 1990s were so good, so secure, that Americans had to invent enemies and existential threats to be scared of.