An AAU basketball game in Georgia ended with a wild brawl Sunday morning involving players, coaches and referees. The game between Chicago R.A.W. and the Houston Raptors turned violent in the fourth quarter of the game, according to Sports Illustrated. Few details about what happened have been confirmed by officials.
Video of the incident shows a referee on the ground with three players from Chicago R.A.W. (Real Athletes Work) surrounding a ref, who was on the ground. The ref gets up and pushes the players back as two other refs join in. The two sides continue pushing and arguing before one of the referees is taken to the ground, seemingly by a coach from the Chicago AAU team. Punches are then thrown as the melee spreads across the court.
Another video shows a different angle, which shows a shirtless referee on the ground as one of the Chicago players swings at him repeatedly. The player is then knocked off of the ref by another referee, who slams him into the scorer’s table. Another player then runs over and hits the ref before the two sides are separated.
Howard Martin, the coach of Chicago R.A.W., claimed in a now-deleted tweet that the brawl started when the referee attacked his players. “A ref actually walked up on one of our players and attacked him. Everyone tried to break it all up, then the ref’s father (who was working a game on a different court) ran over to our court and rushed our guys. Everyone in the gym, the other team and the directors saw everything.”
The videos were first posted online by Doug Jones of RCS Sports:
According to ESPN, the brawl happened during the finals of The Association tournament in Emerson, Georgia, near Atlanta. Josh Miley, the tournament’s organizer, told ESPN that the Emerson Police Department was called to the LakePoint Sporting Community, where the tournament was being held, and they have launched a criminal investigation.
ESPN reports that the fight started when the referee called a technical foul on one of the R.A.W. players. Despite deleting his tweet, Martin stood by his story about the referee starting the brawl. He said in a statement to ESPN:
At the end of the game, one of my players was complaining about a call. He made a comment to the referee. The ref didn’t like it. So the other team inbounded the ball, walked it up, the ref said to my player, ‘Say it again.’ Then he T’d him up and kicked him out of the game. And he walked behind him, still having words. Then the ref pushed my player, and they squared up right by my bench. When they squared up, another one of my players jumped off the bench and took [the ref] down. We separated them.
Martin also said another referee ran in to join in the brawl instead of separating the players, telling ESPN, “I’m telling him, ‘Hey, hey, it’s all good.’ [And he says], ‘Who hit the ref?’ He’s running to the ref’s defense. He’s coming over to join in whatever’s going on. … He finally calms down some. Then the kid who was involved in taking the ref down comes over and says, ‘It’s me, trying to take responsibility for it.’ [And the ref] charged the kid. And it all went to hell.”
But Bobby Benjamin, the coach of the opposing team, the Houston Raptors, told ESPN he saw things differently. Benjamin said the players started the brawl when one player “body slammed” a referee.
“The referee definitely didn’t attack the kids,” Benjamin told ESPN. “Absolutely not. Once things got going, and he was attacked … he got assaulted. They were too outnumbered to even try to defend themselves.”
Miley, the event organizer, said the referees were provided by the LakePoint Sporting Community. “It’s unfortunate,” he told ESPN. “It’s saddening. It’s sickening. It’s hard to stomach. No adult, no kid should have to witness that.”
Mac McIntosh, who was coaching on an adjacent court during the brawl, told Yahoo Sports, “What I saw was a bunch of players and a coaching staff that lost their mind, and then a referee that didn’t help the situation.”
Marcus Fisher, who was coaching against McIntosh’s team, told Yahoo, “Tempers got hot, one of their players hit the referee and then all hell broke loose. It’s a bad representation of AAU basketball. It’s sad.”
Martin told ESPN no one was arrested, but he plans to seek legal counsel when he returns to Chicago. “Now it’s all over social media, news outlets, that my kids are a bunch of thugs and a bunch of gangbangers. They’re all teenage boys. One guy came to the aid of another guy, which he shouldn’t have. He should have let us handle it. I’m not condoning anything my players did, but they’re kids. They’re minors. That’s why they need adults. My job is to protect them. And that’s what I’m going to do.”
Source: Heavy Sports