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Four of the most controversial moments in NBA history

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The NBA is one of the biggest franchises in global sports and has a massive following globally. This is most obviously seen in the USA, where the league is based and where the teams that play in it are located.

There are also many other countries around the planet that have a passion for the NBA, with the UK being a great example. Over the years, the increased popularity of basketball in general around the country has seen NBA games become must-see events.

There is no doubt that the league has managed to keep its global fanbase hooked by throwing up some iconic moments and exciting games. It has also seen its fair share of controversial moments that have kept fans talking.

But which are the four most controversial moments in the competition’s past?

1. Tim Donaghy betting scandal

The NBA is one of the top competitions for sports bettors and is a league that all the top sportsbooks cover. This has made betting on games a key part of NBA history and something that is likely to remain a constant in the sport.


Although sports betting does not usually negatively impact the NBA, the Tim Donaghy scandal did put the league’s integrity on the line. Donaghy was caught placing wagers on games he was officiating, and the subsequent decisions he made in said matchups were called into doubt. Although an official NBA investigation concluded Donaghy did not fix any of the games he had bet on, this was still a hugely controversial moment in NBA annals.

2. Malice at the Palace

Most NBA fans around the world still remember the Malice at the Palace incident, which happened in a 2004 game between the Indiana Pacers and the Detroit Pistons at Auburn Palace. Michigan. When the fierce rivalry these sides have is considered, it is perhaps no surprise to see them falling out so badly.

It all began when Pacers player Ron Artest made a hard foul against Detroit’s Ben Wallace towards the end of the game. Although the fallout led to each player facing off initially, it soon saw both sides getting fully involved to settle the argument. Artest wisely decided to stay out of the drama by lying on the announcers table – and this is where it got really crazy.

A hyped-up Pistons fan thought throwing a drink over Artest as he lay prone was a good idea. Artest did not take kindly to this and rushed into the crowd to start fighting any Pistons fans he could find. This led to teammates coming into the stands to help him and more violence spilling onto the court, involving other players and fans.

3. The Sterling scandal

This surely goes down as a truly controversial moment and made all the NBA news, stories and events at the time. It occurred in 2014, when then LA Clippers owner Donald Sterling was exposed for making shameful racist remarks. As expected, the video evidence of Sterling’s outburst sent shockwaves through the league and disgusted NBA fans, coaches and players.


As a result of these remarks, Sterling was handed a lifetime ban from the NBA and he eventually sold the LA Clippers to former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer. This incident also shed light on the continuing fight against racism in sports like basketball, and shocked fans who thought the sport had made greater strides in this area.

4. LeBron leaves the Cavs

We all know that LeBron James is a supremely talented NBA superstar who will be remembered as one of the true greats. It’s fair, though, to say that fans of his old team, the Cleveland Cavaliers, might have a different take on this.

This all stems from LeBron’s decision to leave the Cavs in 2010 as a free agent. Until then, he had been a firm favourite in the area and a player all Cleveland fans loved. His decision to leave for new challenges in Miami proved very controversial throughout the city and was a real talking point for NBA fans in general at the time.

This resulted in James having to employ a security team to shadow him when he entered the state of Ohio. As fans reacted to his move by burning his jersey, destroying memorabilia and throwing objects at a giant likeness of him in Cleveland, this was probably a sensible move.

The NBA and controversy are no strangers

As the above shows, the NBA and controversy sometimes go hand in hand.

This is not a surprise in sporting terms because all sports have their own share of shocking moments to reflect on. The moments mentioned here, though, show that when controversy hits this league, it does so in a way that is difficult to forget.

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