Corrections and clarifications: A previous version of this story described the actions of a referee inaccurately. That has been corrected. The Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) issued a statement late Sunday distancing itself from the event, noting that the game in question was not sanctioned by AAU. This story has been edited to reflect that information. Read the AAU’s full statement here.
Another week, another massive basketball brawl, though this one was caught on camera.
A week after parents claimed a game between an Atlanta-area AAU girls team and their counterparts from Texas descended into a 40 person fracas, a Chicago squad became embroiled in an on-court fight with officials at The Association tournament finals in Emerson, Georgia, near Atlanta, on Sunday.
Video footage of the fight from multiple angles can be seen above, as uploaded to World Star Hip Hop after originally posted by RCSSports recruiting reporter Doug Jones. World Star Hip Hop reported the teams involved as Chicago R.A.W. Athletics and the Houston Raptors. The incident was both explosive and stunning.
The World Star Hip Hop report claims the fight began when three R.A.W. Athletic players attacked an official, even after he fell to the ground, but R.A.W. Athletics coach Howard Martin pushed back against that narrative, insisting that the official involved actually attacked his players first.
Here’s what Martin told ESPN’s Myron Medcalf about the fight:
“At the end of the game, one of my players was complaining about a call,” Martin told ESPN. “He made a comment to the referee. The ref didn’t like it. So the other team inbounded the ball, walked it up, the ref said to my player, ‘Say it again.’ Then he T’d him up and kicked him out of the game. And he walked behind him, still having words. Then the ref pushed my player, and they squared up right by my bench. When they squared up, another one of my players jumped off the bench and took [the ref] down. We separated them.”
Martin told ESPN that one of the officials who ran over from another court was trying to “join in” the brawl.
“I’m telling him, ‘Hey, hey, it’s all good.’ [And he says], ‘Who hit the ref?'” Martin said. “He’s running to the ref’s defense. He’s coming over to join in whatever’s going on. … He finally calms down some. Then the kid who was involved in taking the ref down comes over and says, ‘It’s me, trying to take responsibility for it.’ [And the ref] charged the kid. And it all went to hell.”
Houston Raptors coach Bobby Benjamin instead told ESPN that R.A.W. Athletics started the fight, going so far as to describe one player’s attack on an official as a “body slam.”
Josh Miley, organizer of The Association tournament finals, said event officials were still investigating video of the incident and that while all support structures were in place during that fight, it proved too difficult to completely thwart. He acknowledged that the official who was involved in the incident continued to work at the event afterward.
“It’s unfortunate,” Miley told Medcalf. “It’s saddening. It’s sickening. It’s hard to stomach. No adult, no kid should have to witness that.”
There is no word yet as to whether any of these players or officials will face charges related to the incident, though Martin said he planned to have a conversation with some legal counsel after returning to Chicago. It wouldn’t be a surprise if someone did, given both the explosive nature of the fight and the reaction to it as it continues to spread across social media.