Serge Ibaka exudes a calm demeanor and enjoins a lot of respect around the league. He also loves fighting other NBA players on seemingly trivial premises.
He was at it again on Monday night, swinging on Marquese Chriss during the Raptors’ loss to the Cavaliers..
This is at least Ibaka’s third legit fight in the NBA after he (unwisely but bravely) swung on noted MMA fighter James Johnson last season and retaliated against Robin Lopez two years ago. To exhibit his well-rounded career, he also has a notable FIBA fight against Luis Scola, though that was more of a gratuitous elbow to brush Scola back than a face-up fight.
Ibaka surely faces a suspension for choking and swinging on Chriss given that Chriss’ apparent instigation was simply verbal. Brandon Ingram received a four-game suspension early this season after shoving James Harden and swinging on Chris Paul. That was more of a group scuffle, though, and as noted Ibaka has a history of being involved in fisticuffs.
That said, Ibaka’s previous two NBA fights only resulted in one-game suspensions. Adam Silver isn’t really into punishing fighters all that much. (Was he on sabbatical during Malice at the Palace or something?) It seems like given the one-sided nature of the physical aggression here that five games is the upper bound of what Ibaka faces, with perhaps four games being the sweet spot.
Not that it matters: the Raptors will almost positively be the No. 2 seed in the East. All the team is working on now is fine-tuning for the playoffs, which is frankly probably a little tricky when Kawhi Leonard is being rested for load management once a week anyway.