Kevin Garnett and Dwight Howard will likely both find their way into the Hall of Fame some day, but the big men's reputations could not be more different. The 38-year-old KG is known as one of the most intense athletes of his era, while Howard has often been criticized for lacking that special drive to compete with every fiber of his being. Those characterizations are exaggerations, but they still factor into considerations of both players.
They're also a useful bit of context for the forthcoming video. Just a few minutes into Monday night's contest between the Brooklyn Nets and Houston Rockets at Barclays Center, Garnett and Howard got involved in a bit of a tussle that ended with serious consequences for one player. Garnett was called for a personal foul while defending an entry pass to Howard at the 7:53 mark of the first quarter. Howard somewhat casually slapped at Garnett as he was walking away, after which Garnett retaliated by throwing the ball at his opponent's back and head-butting Howard after he turned around. Things continued to get heated:
Howard showed a general lack of interest in escalating the fight and was dutifully restrained by referee David Guthrie, but Garnett worked his way through a restraining hug from Rockets wing Trevor Ariza and seemed interested in continuing a war of words (at least) with Howard. After a review, the officials opted to hand a technical foul to Howard and eject Garnett from the game entirely. The NBA announced on Tuesday that Garnett earned a one-game suspension without pay, and Howard was fined $15,000. Garnett is expected to miss Wednesday's game against the Memphis Grizzlies.
The punishment makes sense given the actions on display in this video. While Howard struck the first physical blow in the altercation, Garnett clearly escalated matters and seemed much more interested in facing the Rockets center once everyone else attempted to separate the two. Old-school fans may quibble with the response from the referees and the league, but this is one case in which they appear to have gotten things right.
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