An Under-17 basketball game devolved into a brawl when players attacked a referee during the semifinals of The Association tournament at the Lake Point Sports Complex in Emerson, Georgia.
According to Yahoo Sports, the Houston Raptors had pinned Chicago’s Raw Athletics to a double-digit deficit during a semifinals game on Sunday. The Raptors’ coach, Bobby Benjamin, sensed the Athletics’ frustration and had already instructed his team to skip shaking hands at the end of the game, as he was worried a fight might erupt.
“Their players started fighting amongst each other and they were arguing with their coach,” Benjamin told Yahoo Sports. “That’s when I knew it was about to get bad. I figured if they’re going to fight with each other, they might be willing to fight anybody.”
Benjamin’s intuition proved accurate. In the final minutes of the game, an Athletics player shoulder-bumped a referee after a call, and when the referee responded by assessing the player with a technical, the player took a swing at the referee.
Things devolved from there, as Athletics players surrounded the ref and began punching him as he lay on the ground.
“When I looked up, the kid was swinging at the ref,” Benjamin said. “At that point I told my assistant coaches to get our kids on the other side of the court. I didn’t want them involved in that at all. If you watch the video, you will probably not see a single purple jersey.
Here’s a look at that video I was talking about. This is the moment that led up to the brawl. The camera pans to the right, so we may have missed a crucial moment. pic.twitter.com/leA0DEHbsc— Michael Seiden (@SeidenWSBTV) July 9, 2018
Raw Athletics coach Howard Martin didn’t return a request for comment, but in a now deleted tweet he blamed the referee for starting the fight. “A ref actually walked up on one of our players and attacked him,” Martin wrote in the tweet. “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.”
Raw Athletics forfeited its semifinal against the Houston Raptors, which didn’t matter much, as the Raptors had a comfortable lead heading into the final minute of the game.