It was Game 5 of the second round of the 1997 NBA playoffs featuring the New York Knicks and the Miami Heat. It was going bad for the Knicks and the Heat had a commanding lead heading into the final moments of the game. That’s when it got even worse for the Knicks.
Knicks coach Jeff Van Gundy had benched most of his starters because of the Knicks poor performance. Play on the court was getting more fustrating and a fight ensued between the Knicks’ Charlie Ward and Miami’s P.J. Brown. Van Gundy was attempting to contain the fight along with Miami Coach (and former Knick Coach) Pat Riley. During the melee, a large number of the Knick players, including some of the starters, took steps away from the bench towards where the fight was taking place. This was a big mistake.
After the game, league commissioner David Stern threw the book at the Knicks and suspended Patrick Ewing, Allan Houston, John Starks, Larry Johnson, and Charlie Ward. The suspensions had to be carried across games 6 and 7 so the Knicks could dress the required number of players! Miami won the series in seven games and so it became, the first chapter of the intense rivalry between the New York Knicks and Miami Heat.
See the fight here at about the 8th minute of the video.