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12 Infamous Player-On-Player Crimes

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By Scott Henry

Vancouver Canucks forward Alexandre Burrows escaped a suspension for allegedly chomping on the fingers of Bruins center Patrice Bergeron in last Wednesday’s Stanley Cup Finals opener. The league decided that insufficient proof existed to show Burrows taking a bite, this video notwithstanding.

The 12 incidents shown here, like the Burrows bite, have plenty of evidence that they happened. Some have pictures, some have videos, and all have legendary reputations.  

12. New Mexico's One-Woman Crime Spree

Junior defender Elizabeth Lambert got some attention that the New Mexico women’s soccer team might not have wanted when she took physical defense to a new level in 2009.

Playing BYU in a Mountain West Conference tournament semifinal match, Lambert played defense less out of EA Sports FIFA 11 and more out of WWE Smackdown vs. Raw. Lunging tackles that sought to take out ankles, slaps to opponents’ faces on the way down from headers, you name it. There’s no truth to the rumor that she tried to leave the field to look for a steel chair.

There’s lots of truth, though, to the legend of Lambert trying to rip Kassidy Shumway’s ponytail right out of her head. See the video if you are a fan of physical soccer, women behaving badly, and/or Drowning Pool.

11. Chan Ho Park Channels Bruce Lee

June 5, 1999 started out as a pretty good day for Chan Ho Park. The Dodgers’ righthander had only allowed one hit to the Anaheim Angels and had struck out four through 3 1/3 innings. Then, he let up a bit, allowing Mo Vaughn, Garret Anderson, and Troy Glaus to load the bases and falling behind 2-0 to light-hitting catcher Matt Walbeck. The next pitch ended up in the right-centerfield seats, and the Dodgers were trailing 4-0.

By most accounts, Park got the worst of the fight, and Belcher remained perplexed two years later. In the August 2001 issue of Maxim, Belcher was quoted thusly: “The guy tried to kick my head off. So what if he likes tae kwon do? I like to hunt, but I didn't take a shotgun out there.” No truth to the rumor that that comment gave Bud Selig an idea for the next time attendance starts to fall off.

10. Minor League Game, Major League Fight

Israel “Izzy” Alcantara was a classic “Four-A” player. From 1997 through 2000, he clubbed 113 minor-league home runs as a farmhand for four different teams, adding four bombs at the major-league level for the Boston Red Sox. In 2001, he still dominated the minors, batting .297 with 36 home runs at Triple-A Pawtucket, but it was a never-finished at-bat that became his immortal legacy.

On July 3, 2001, Scranton-Wilkes Barre pitcher Blas Cedeno brushed Izzy back twice, and twice was all Izzy could stand. Alcantara threw a thrust kick that would make “The Heartbreak Kid” Shawn Michaels proud, sending catcher Jeremy Salazar sprawling, then it was off to the mound. Cedeno stepped expertly away from Izzy’s wild roundhouse right and, by that time, the rest of the infield convened at the mound.

By the end of this brawl, however, it’s likely no one was sorer than Izzy himself…with the possible exception of the superkicked catcher. Chest protector or not, that looked like it hurt.

8. McHale Clotheslines Rambis, Mustache

The 1984 NBA Finals marked the first time that Magic Johnson and Larry Bird had met for a professional championship after their scintillating duel for the NCAA title five years prior. Three games into the series, the Lakers were running at will, scoring an impressive 137 points in regulation during Game 3.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar pulled down a rebound and tossed a long baseball pass to James Worthy. Worthy found a streaking Rambis, who had a wide-open layup in his sights until McHale caught him in the air and brought him down hard with a textbook clothesline. We’re still unsure what kind of school uses textbooks that teach such things.

Larry Bird helped Rambis back to his feet and tried to talk him down as the crowd at the Forum serenaded the players with that immortal chant, “Boston Sucks!”

7. Miami + Weapons = Saturday Night

The result of the October 14, 2006 football game between the Miami Hurricanes and the Florida International Golden Panthers was expected to be ugly.

Miami was only leading 13-0 in the third quarter after James Bryant caught a five-yard touchdown pass. Despite the fact that the would-be blowout was still somewhat of a game, Bryant decided his gorgeous reception warranted taking a bow to the fans. The Panthers were not amused.

On the ensuing extra point, rushers and blockers began shoving, the holder got thrown to the ground and punched in the jaw, and all hell generally broke loose. 

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31 players were suspended, Lamar Thomas was fired, and FIU went right on struggling mightily against BCS opponents. Since that fight, the Panthers are 0-16 against teams from BCS conferences, being outscored 615-165 in those games.

6. Zidane's Thin Skin Screws France

Players in all sports talk trash during games, and it occasionally gets a little racy. Once you bring an opponent’s mother, wife, girlfriend, or sister into the discussion, it’s the express lane to an explosion.

French midfielder Zinedine Zidane saw red, both literally and figuratively, when Italy’s Marco Materazzi called Zidane’s sister a whore during a 2006 international match. He headbutted Materazzi in the chest, sending the Italian sprawling like he’d been shot with a deer rifle. Appropriately enough, Zidane was ejected for the overt act of aggression.

5. Dark Alley? Nope, Dark Rink

The 1987 World Junior Hockey Championships, held in Piestany, Czechoslovakia, boasted a host of future NHL stars in its final game. The rosters of Canada and the Soviet Union featured players like Brendan Shanahan, Theoren Fleury, Sergei Fedorov, and Alexander Mogilny. By game’s end, though, the names on the jerseys were irrelevant, since no one could see them with the lights turned off.

Conspiracy theorists claimed that the USSR, already out of medal contention, started the fight deliberately, seeking to sabotage Canada’s chances of winning their own medal. This seems about as likely as a theory we’re throwing around the office that the Soviet team was shown Red Dawn during intermission.

4. Taking One Right in the Ol' Buckeyes

In the final minute of this Minnesota/OSU game, Luke Witte was fouled hard while driving for a layup. Minnesota center Corky Taylor extended a hand to help Witte to his feet, then dropped him right back down to the floor with a knee to the man-regions.

Taylor quickly backed away as angry Buckeyes charged at him, but Corky’s Minnesota teammates intercepted his would-be attackers and chased them down the court. Gopher forward Ron Behagen charged off the bench and stomped on the still-prone Witte’s head. That attack surely struck fear into welcome mats everywhere, but it made Behagen look like a punk in the eyes of his fellow humans.

Witte suffered a concussion, needed 29 stitches to close the wounds on his face, and suffered a scarred cornea that interfered with his vision for years to come. There was probably an icepack down his shorts at some point in the evening, too, but that remains unconfirmed.

3. Richard Riot: NHL Left With Egg on Face

Maurice “Rocket” Richard, if he played today, would be said to have a slight attitude problem. He could be easily goaded into retaliation for rough play, he was fined multiple times for assaulting officials, and he wrote a newspaper column in which he called NHL President Clarence Campbell a “dictator.” But, as a French-Canadian star at a time when French descendants were oppressed in Canada, Richard was a hero to his people.

March 13, 1955 seemed like just another brutal hockey game between Richard’s Montreal Canadiens and the arch-rival Boston Bruins. With Montreal on the power play, Bruin defenseman Hal Laycoe caught Richard across the face with a high stick. The resulting cut would take five stitches to close. When play paused, Richard skated up to Laycoe, who dropped his gloves in the universal hockey signal for “bring it on.” Rather than throw fists, the Rocket decided to smash Laycoe over the head with his stick.

2. Washington's Fist Pleads Self-Defense

At 6’8” and 230 pounds, Kermit Washington does not look like a man you’d want to run into in a dark alley. Or a lit one, for that matter. In the dark, though, he might be a little jumpy, as his actions on December 9, 1977 would suggest.

In that night’s game between the Houston Rockets and Washington’s Los Angeles Lakers, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and the Rockets’ Kevin Kunnert were scuffling at midcourt. Kermit turned away from the battle, satisfied that Kareem had things well in hand, and then spotted Rocket forward Rudy Tomjanovich running forward to break up the brawl.

A second later, Rudy T. was on the floor in the middle of a rapidly forming pool of blood. Rudy’s doctor compared the repair process to Scotch taping a broken egg back together. Tomjanovich missed the rest of that season, while Washington was suspended for two months.

1. Juan Marichal Misunderstands "Batter Up"

Juan Marichal was well-known as an intimidating pitcher, not above firing fastballs toward a batter’s melon. On August 22, 1965, his San Francisco Giants were facing their arch-rivals, the Los Angeles Dodgers, and Marichal was announcing his presence with authority. He’d sent Dodgers Maury Wills and Ron Fairly sprawling with brushback pitches, and the Dodgers had seen enough.

When Marichal came to bat in the bottom of the third, catcher John Roseboro started putting a little extra zip on his throws back to pitcher Sandy Koufax. He also threw them a little closer to Marichal’s head than most batters have to look out for. One throw was said to graze Marichal’s ear, and he turned around to ask Roseboro something along the lines of “Dude, WTF?”

Roseboro came up out of his crouch, pulled off his mask and helmet, and Marichal felt threatened. His response? He cracked the catcher over the head three times with his bat.