Sun Sentinel Palm Beach Edition
Bamba, Suggs suspended for roles in fight
Orlando Magic big man Mo Bamba and guard Jalen Suggs were penalized late Saturday by the NBA for their roles in the altercation with the Minnesota Timberwolves Friday evening at Target Center.
Bamba was suspended four games without pay while Suggs was suspended one game, the league announced.
With 1:32 remaining in the third quarter of the Magic’s 127-120 win over the Timberwolves, Bamba — who wasn’t in the game and was on the Magic’s bench — and Timberwolves guard and former Winter Park High star Austin Rivers engaged in an altercation in front of Orlando’s bench, with both players throwing punches.
A few moments before the fight, Rivers missed a 3-pointer in front of the Magic’s bench. Bamba and guard Markelle Fultz were seen reacting to the miss.
Bamba appeared to say something to Rivers after the miss and stuck his tongue out at him.
“I just heard language behind the bench, or on their bench, but it was just about one dude,” Rivers said. “He had said something the play before as well. I’m not really gonna get into what he said, I’m not gonna snitch on the dude or whatever, but I just didn’t like the way he was talking to me.
“For no reason, too, I don’t even know that dude, I don’t know anything about him. Obviously, I just know he’s a player for the Magic. And he proceeded to talk, so that next possession, when I went down there, I just said, pretty much, ‘Just keep it respectful, bro.’ ”
A few plays later, Rivers confronted Bamba at the Magic’s bench, which started the altercation, leading to Bamba throwing a punch at Rivers.
“[Rivers] did come in his personal space,” said Fultz, who was sitting next to Bamba on the bench before the fight started. “While he’s in the game, to come into Mo’s face. Mo just protected himself. I can’t speak
on Mo’s emotions or anything like that but for me, it was just normal basketball talk and just escalated very, very fast.”
The fight carried onto the court, with multiple players and Magic coaches getting involved to break up the altercation.
Bamba, Suggs, Rivers, Taurean Prince and Jaden McDaniels were ejected as a result of the scuffle.
Bamba declined to speak about the on-court altercation when asked by the Orlando Sentinel Friday, saying, “I have nothing to say.”
“It was just ... people talking trash when somebody shoots on the side,” Fultz said. “We were just having fun, talking [trash]. Same stuff they do on their side. I don’t know if it was something that [Rivers] has been dealing with or something, but he got extremely mad and that’s what he chose
to do to retaliate. I don’t think Mo did anything crazy or said anything crazy. It [was] normal trash talk on the bench, having fun and that’s what it turned into.”
Suggs was suspended for “escalating the altercation by aggressively grabbing Rivers around the neck and pulling him to the floor,” according to the league.
Rivers was suspended three games for his role in the altercation.
Timberwolves forward Jaden McDaniels was fined $20,000 for his role in the altercation, including “running into the scrum and pushing Bamba in the back.” Prince didn’t receive any additional punishment.
Per the league: “Following the incident, Bamba attempted to continue to engage with Rivers in a hostile manner in the corridor outside the locker rooms where
he also aggressively shoved a security representative.”
This likely played a part in why Bamba received the harshest penalty. Rivers alluded to the possibility of another altercation taking place by the locker rooms.
“He tried to ... I don’t know, man,” Rivers said. “He tried to run up on me or whatever. Ain’t nobody worried about him, man.”
Both Bamba and Rivers continued the escalation on social media following the game.
Bamba served the first game of his suspension while Suggs served his suspension in Sunday’s win over the Charlotte Hornets to close out the Magic’s four-game road trip.