Eight Of The Wildest Fights Between Teammates In Sports History

There’s a lot of tension bubbling over in the sports world right now, as athletes from all over figure out how to respond to what’s going on nationally, while also handling their own personal business. Finding out who teammates really are is leading to a lot of vitriol and a number of public disputes. Things are going to be interesting when these guys are back in the same rooms with one another. We got to thinking about some of the craziest teammate fights in sports history. These are just a few of the many wild examples of guys putting aside their similar laundry to settle a dispute.

Eight Wild Teammate Fights

Bill Guerin and a Hockey Stick vs. Brett Draney’s Neck

This one is pretty ugly. Bill Guerin was one of the leading all-time American goal-scorers in NHL history, but played the game with an edge. From 1991-2010, Guerin was a guy who defined “you hate him on the other team but love him if he’s on yours.” The exception to that sentiment might be Guerin’s former Dallas Stars teammate Brett Draney. During his very first day of training camp as a Star, Guerin decided to introduce himself to his young new teammate with a vicious slash to the back of the kid’s neck.

This is at best a major penalty, at worst assault. Today this would get you suspended, fined and dropped forever into an abyss. In 2002, the action drew no punishment, with then-GM Dave Tippett saying “It sent a message around here that Billy is not a guy anyone wants to piss off. Our team’s grit level went up quite a bit as soon as Billy stepped on the ice.” That Guerin is now a general manger says something about the NHL’s tolerance for violence.

Pay What You Owe: Ikemefuna Enemkpali vs. Geno Smith

It’s natural to assume that this teammate fight was over some sort of gambling debt, but it’s stranger than that. The original $600 debt was created from the best of intentions, when then-quarterback Geno Smith committed to attend linebacker Ikemefuna Enemkpali’s youth football camp. The linebacker purchased a plane ticket for Smith but when Smith couldn’t attend due to a funeral, Enemkpali asked for the money back and things got heated. Ending with Enemkpali landing a haymaker that would break Smith’s jaw, leaving the quarterback out 6-10 weeks and blowing up the Jets season before it began. The incident wasn’t caught on video, but it did give the New York tabloid headline writers a fun morning:


NY Post 2

Bizarrely, this wasn’t the only punching incident of Enemkpali’s life. The linebacker missed his college team’s 2011 opener dealing with fallout from one of the original catfishing incidents. Enemkpali punched a man who he’d thought was a woman he’d arranged to pay for sex. The story is bananas, with Enemkpali needing two trips to the victim’s house before being able to determine that his text-friend “Missy Lee” did in fact have facial hair and just might have been a scam.

Carlos Zambrano vs. Michael Barrett Why Wait for the Clubhouse?

A lot of these teammate fight incidents take place behind the scenes, with teammates usually being smart enough to handle their business away from the curious eyes of fans. Notoriously hot-headed Chicago Cubs pitcher, Carlos Zambrano, didn’t see the need to be discrete about it. Zambrano wasn’t happy with a series of bad starts and exploded on his catcher, Michael Barrett, after a bad inning in 2007, which saw Barrett miss an easy pitch for a critical passed ball. The hulking 275-pound pitcher went at his catcher verbally then physically until teammates pulled them apart. Later the same day, the two would continue the brawl with round 2 behind closed doors, which all witnesses said was an even more physical fight. The Spanish commentary on this clip makes it 342% better. All sports commentating should be in Spanish.

Latrell Sprewell Chokes Out Coach P.J. Carlesimo

In one of the craziest same-team incidents I can remember in my lifetime, NBA star Latrell Sprewell did this to the neck of Warriors coach P.J. Carlesimo:

Latrell Sprewell Chokes PJ Carlesimo - Where Are They Now?

Carlesimo’s sweater of chest hair is somehow not the most disturbing thing about that image. The fury with which one would have to be strangling a person to leave those marks is frightening. The incident was sparked when Carlesimo suggested that perhaps Spree wasn’t putting enough mustard on his passes. This led to an altercation then to what Spree referred to as “(not) choking P.J. that hard, I mean, he could breathe.” The NBA disagreed with the degree of assault on this one, handing Spreewell a full-season suspension which was later reduced to 68 games. Spree would be traded to the Knicks where New York fans embraced him in our desperate attempt to find anyone to love.


Buddy Ryan’s Slow-Mo Old Man Punch to Kevin Gilbride’s Face

Coaches can have teammate fights too! Another one where guys just couldn’t wait to get into the locker room to settle their differences, this battle was between two coaches, who are paid to know better. Then 62-year-old NFL defensive guru Buddy Ryan (Rex and Rob’s dad) didn’t like the performance of younger Offensive Coordinator Kevin Gilbride’s offense, getting in his face before halftime in a 1993 game between the Oilers and Jets (for our younger readers, the Oilers left Houston to become the Titans, then Houston just got a new team in the Texans a few years later). This one doesn’t exactly break the punch-power meter, but any gnats flying between the two coaches at the time may have felt a slight breeze.

Hazing? Really? Akim Aliu Stands Up to Steve Downie

Imagine being the son of Nigerian immigrants to Canada, growing up and becoming such a good hockey player despite your mostly-used equipment that you’re drafted 6th overall in the OHL (Canadian Major-Junior hockey, a feeder system to the NHL) at just 16 years old. Now imagine showing up in a professional locker room at 16 and being told to really “fit in” you have to strip naked and stand in the team bus’ bathroom with your also-naked fellow rookies. Welcome to Akim Aliu’s life. In 2005 Aliu refused to participate, a bold move for a kid who never backed down from a challenge. His older teammate and current NHLer, Steve Downie responded with a vicious cross-check during practice a few days later, leading to this brawl where Aliu appears to have made his point all over Downie’s face. If only we could unleash this sort of response to hazers everywhere.

NHL Heavyweights Square-off: Keith Primeau vs. Bob Probert

Two of the NHL’s premiere enforcers on the same team? In 1994 that’s precisely what the Detroit Red Wings had in 6’5″ 220lbs Keith Primeau and 6’3″ 230lbs Bob Probert. Both had reputations as guys you didn’t want to screw with, and guys you want watching your back. Unfortunately a few teammates didn’t get the message about not screwing with Primeau, arranging for the arena’s P.A. announcer to declare an assist for Primeau in the middle of practice, after the forward had complained he wasn’t awarded one in a recent game. Primeau didn’t take it well, going at it at full game-fight speed with Probert until they were separated. This might be the best pure brawl of all the teammate fights out there.

Don’t Give Gilbert Arenas Guns – Arenas vs. Crittenton

As teammate fights go, this one is going to be tough to top. Sometimes friendly gambling can get out of control and major disputes can arise (am I right, Slack chat?). In probably the most famous NBA gun-play incident, then star and always nutty Gilbert Arenas and teammate Javaris Crittenton came arguably near a shoot-out in the Wizards locker room. Two days earlier, returning from a road trip, Arenas, Crittenton, and several other players had been playing cards on the team plane. Crittenton lost a late hand just before landing, and later approached Arenas about arranging a chance to win his money back.

The dialogue, as Arenas later told it to USA Today went:

Crittenton: So you just gonna let me lose my money like that? You ain’t even gonna be a real (____) and give me a chance to get my money back?

Arenas: Javaris, I will burn your car, while you’re in it. Then we’ll find an extinguisher to help ya ass out.

Crittenton: Well, I’ll just shoot you then.

Arenas: Man, I’ll bring you the guns to shoot me!

Two days later, Arenas arrived in the Wizards locker room with a bag containing four handguns and told Crittenton “Hey, (___), come pick one, I’m going to shoot your ass with one of these.”

Crittenton responded by pulling his own gun, the only one that was apparently actually loaded. Fortunately teammates were able to de-escalate the situation before things got worse. Both players were suspended for the remainder of the season and convicted on gun infractions in D.C. Arenas would deteriorate through a series of injuries, eventually washing out of the NBA. Crittenton, darkly, was later charged and convicted of manslaughter in a separate incident, and sentenced to 23 years.

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