The Beijing Brawl

Here’s what we know

-Today in Beijing, an exhibition game between Georgetown and a Chinese professional team called the Bayi Rockets ended when a fight broke out in the fourth quarter. According to Wikipedia and other sources, the Bayi Rockets are a military team, and their players all serve in the People’s Liberation Army. When Georgetown coach John Thompson III led his players off the court, the game was tied at 64.

EDIT: We now have video.

Accounts, Professional and Otherwise

-The Washington Post has the best recap to date, along with at least four crazy pictures.

-A Georgetown fan who was at the game posted his first-hand account on HoyaTalk, a message board (scroll to the bottom of the page).

-The Post’s Gene Wang was at the game, and tweeted the events as they were happening.

-Thompson released a very bland statement about the incident.

-The New York Post’s tweet promoting their article started with this headline: KUNG FOOLS


-There was a pretty huge foul discrepancy from the get-go, and the tension may have started there. At halftime, according to Wang, Georgetown had been whistled for an incredible 28 fouls to Bayi’s 11. In an earlier game between Duke and the Chinese U-23 team in Shanghai, Coach K was livid with the referees from the get-go, and ESPNU announcer Doug Gottlieb made several pointed references to the imbalanced officiating (both in that game and Duke’s game against the same team a day earlier).

-Xu Zhonghao, a forward on the Chinese team, berated Thompson at one point. Verbal confrontations between players began in earnest in the second half, and the big fight in the fourth quarter was set off by a hard foul committed against Georgetown’s Jason Clark.

-Punches were thrown, chairs were swung (Georgetown’s Henry Sims was reportedly hit with one), and players were tackled during the fight. According to Wang, the security services didn’t take much, if any, action while it was happening.

-The Georgetown team left the floor as fans hurled water bottles at them. They walked to the team bus without waiting for a police escort. According to the message board account, the Georgetown alumni in attendance were escorted out of the building.

Lingering Questions

-What’s the deal with the referees in China? It’d be very easy to speculate that a mandate from on high is dictating the “style” of officiating, but it could also be a matter of personal bias or a really odd coincidence. In any case, it’s leading to a lot of tension, and today that tension erupted in violence.

-Will Georgetown finish its China trip? They have five days left, and the next stop is in Shanghai, but it’d be really surprising if they finished it out.

-Will Duke play its final game in China? Their third ‘Friendship Games’ exhibition against the U-23 national team (Duke won the first two games by double digits) is scheduled for Monday in Beijing, the scene of today’s hostilities. How deep is the lingering anger of the Chinese fans? Will there be a security concern?

-Will there be any long-term impact on athletic relations between the two countries?

It’s too early to tell if this is a strange isolated instance or a harbinger of something wore, but one way or another, it’s a bad day for international basketball.

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5 Responses to The Beijing Brawl

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  1. Aaron says:

    There’s no excuse for fans to throw stuff at players. There’s also no excuse for a player to pick up a chair to hit another player (as the video showing a Chinese player doing). The video doesn’t show enough to draw many conclusions, but you can see a Chinese player basically sitting on top of a G’town player throwing punches repeatedly. Bad, bad, bad. I wouldn’t play any more games on this trip if i were G’town.
    Duke’s second game also had a huge foul disparity, but it never got unsportsmanlike.

  2. Pat Hulser says:

    I don’t know Shane, perhaps Joe Biden is to blame…See this->

  3. Nate says:

    I thought it was hilarious. There’s a part where a Chinese player is holding a chair and kind of ambling around, and there’s a staffer standing in front of him with his arms out. You can imagine the dialogue:
    “NO. No. Don’t you even think of doing what I think you’re going to do with that chair. I swear to God you’ll be cleaning latrines in Guangdong for the rest of your life.”

    It’s like having a standoff with a puppy that’s about to eat something he shouldn’t. You can tell it no all you want… but sometimes it decides the cost-benefit is in its favor.

  4. david says:

    I think giving bribes is commonplace in China, and perhaps the Chinese teams are giving their share but the US teams haven’t given theirs. Give the refs $100 or something each for a fair game, and I bet you’d see one.

    1. Shane says:

      David, I don’t know. I think in China the whole thing is more institutional. I could be totally wrong, but while money might be involved, I think there’s pressure beyond that for these refs.

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