If you're anything like me, you spend most of your days wondering what's been up with former New York Knicks and Denver Nuggets forward Renaldo Balkman since his 14-game stint in the NBA last season. Well, I've got good news and bad news.
The good news? The 28-year-old former first-round pick is still playing basketball professionally, plying his trade for the Petron Blaze Boosters of the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA). The bad news? He has, apparently, become a bit ... well ... assault-y when things aren't going his way on the floor.
We pick things up in the final minute of Petron's 2013 PBA Commissioner's Cup matchup with the Alaska Aces. The two teams are battling at the top of the tournament's standings, and with Balkman's squad down seven in the closing stages, apparently, frustrations mounted:
So, yeah. Wow. Here are all the things that went wrong:
1. After airballing a short jumper on which he believed he was fouled by fellow import Robert Dozier, who was drafted by the Miami Heat in 2009 but never played for the team, an upset Balkman approached the nearest official to plead his case. He did so pretty aggressively, bumping the ref, which is a no-no no matter which league you play in, even if what you're intending to do is just show how the defender ripped up under your elbow while you were shooting.
2. One of Petron's assistants approaches Balkman to try to cool him down and get him away from the referee. Balkman pushes him away. That's two people he shouldn't have had physical contact with.
3. Balkman propels off his assistant coach into a second official, then proceeds to bump him, follow him up the court and continue to loudly proclaim that he had been aggrieved. At this point, Balkman's teammates are starting to try to calm him down, which, because I haven't watched the rest of the video yet, I'm pretty sure works out just fine.
4. Nope! As Balkman walks across the court to lodge a protest with the third referee, teammate Ronald Tubid attempts to put himself between Balkman and the official. The 6-foot-8, 240-pound Balkman promptly tosses the 6-foot-1, 185-pound guard aside like a rag doll.
5. Now two more teammates have come over to help out, including forward Arwind Santos, who steps in front of Balkman and tries to calm him down. Balkman says, "Don't touch me," a few times, then slaps Santos' hand off his wrist and pushes him away.
6. As we all know, you do not push Arwind Santos, because he will push you back. Now, with the battle joined, Balkman escalates things — shocking, given how passive and demure he's been throughout this scenario — by grabbing a hold of Santos' throat. This, quite understandably, leads the announcers to freak out — "HE'S STRANGLING ARWIND SANTOS!" is not something I expected to hear when I woke up this morning — and leads to a man in a jean vest whom the announcers did not recognize coming onto the court to speak with Balkman, because sure, why not?
Chris Lagunzad of Yahoo! Philippines Sports has more on the aftermath of Balkman's remarkable outburst:
AKTV courtside reporter Erika Padilla said on TV that behind the locked door she overheard Racela talking to his team about coming together and not going their separate ways, after which everyone in the locker room could be heard applauding.
Balkman reportedly emerged from Petron’s locker room looking sober, and supposedly apologized to his teammates for his stunning outburst. Not surprisingly, he has been summoned to appear at the Commissioner’s office on Monday.
Yeah, I'd imagine you might have to go to see the boss after you grab a co-worker's neck. Standard procedure in most offices, really.
After footage of Balkman's meltdown began to circulate around the Internet on Friday morning, the 20th pick in the 2006 NBA draft — one slot before Rajon Rondo, four slots ahead of Kyle Lowry and 27 slots ahead of Paul Millsap, I am duty-bound as a Knicks fan to remind you — the dreadlocked forward took to Twitter to express remorse:
— Renaldo Balkman (@R_Balkman32) March 8, 2013
This was unintentional towards @arwindsotnas,I ama team player who always has the best interest of the team at heart.
— Renaldo Balkman (@R_Balkman32) March 8, 2013
Balkman's apologetic tone extended to an exclusive post-freakout conversation with Spin.PH's Snow Badua:
“It was in the heat of the moment, I was frustrated, I hate myself for what I did. Everybody sees me as a bad person. But, that’s not me, that’s not me.” [...]
“I am a professional, I am not supposed to do that. I already apologized to Arwind (Santos), his family and my teammates, including our bosses," said the apologetic import.
“Everybody does something once in a life, they’re not supposed to do. At the time I blanked out and went at it,” the former New York Knicks added. “It’s my first time ever in my entire life to do that."
Well, thank heavens for that, I suppose.
Video via InterAKTV. Hat-tip to an awful lot of people on Twitter.