Last night's Rondo/Paul/Ingram melee similar to Bird/Dr J/Barkley battle

It all started at the 4:13 mark of the fourth quarter, and the Lakers leading the Rockets 109-108. An argument ensued between Houston's Chris Paul and LA's Rajon Rondo. The confrontation got ugly very quickly, with punches thrown. Looking at the videos, I see a few similarities to the Philadelphia-Boston battle involving Larry Bird, Julius Erving and Charles Barkley.

Paul, Rondo and Brandon Ingram all picked up technical fouls and were ejected for participation in the melee. Chris' contention is that Rondo was the instigator by spitting in CP3's face. I see no evidence of that in the videos I have surveyed, but both parties were throwing punches at each other, and Chris was grabbed by Lebron James, at which time Ingram decided to do his best Julius Erving-as-puncher imitation and threw at least one punch at CP3's face as Paul was being held by Lebron.

To be fair, even though it may appear to some that James was playing Charles Barkley's role of holder-of-the-punchee (Chris Paul), Lebron was merely acting as peacemaker. To this day, Sir Charles swears that he was only acting as peacemaker by holding Larry Bird, and that Ervings punches were incidental.

Houston went on a run after the ejections and won the game 124-115. We can expect fines and suspensions coming out of this, and fortunately the ruckus ended quickly. My take is that the NBA learned many lessons from the Malice at the Palace melee between the Pacers and Pistons, and officials and stadium staff move quickly to avoid a repeat. I truly believe the "Lot of history between them (CP3 and Rondo)" quote in the above tweet. I will be interested in the NBA's take on Ingram-as-escalator, running in and taking at least one punch at Chris. His action was inflammatory. Hopefully, the League sees it the same.

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Photo via Kevin Sullivan/Orange County Register/SCNG
Video via PHP