Basketball is a sport that never fails to entertain, and sometimes that entertainment goes beyond the court. One of the most iconic moments in NBA history is the unforgettable scuffle between Sidney Moncrief and Danny Ainge in the 1987 NBA Eastern Conference Semi Finals. Recently, Moncrief shared his perspective on this legendary incident with fellow legend, Michael Cooper. Moncrief sheds light on the emotions, tension, and camaraderie that pushed the usually mild mannered Milwaukee Bucks guard to body slam Ainge.
The stage was set on March 15, 1987, during the sixth game of another heated playoff battle between the Milwaukee Bucks and the Boston Celtics. Sidney Moncrief, a five-time NBA All-Star and two-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year, squared off against Danny Ainge, a notoriously feisty Celtics guard who would go on to become an NBA All-Star and two-time NBA champion.
The contest was a heated battle from the very beginning, with both teams showcasing their skills and grit. Tensions were high, as both squads were fighting for the right to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals. As the intensity of the game grew, so did the hostility between the players.
According to Moncrief, it all started when Ainge fouled him hard during a fast break. Ainge would continue to swing elbows and Moncrief, known for his competitive yet mild mannered spirit, took exception to the jabs from Ainge. The two began to exchange words, and before anyone knew it, they were locked in a physical altercation.
The melee involved players from both teams, as well as coaches trying to break up the fight highlighted by Moncrief issuing a WWE style body slam to Ainge landing him on his back in the expensive courtside seats.
In the years that followed, Moncrief and Ainge would face each other numerous times on the court, always with a sense of mutual respect. They would later become friends, sharing laughs over their infamous confrontation.
Sidney Moncrief, now retired and reflecting on his storied career recently with Lakers’ legend, Michael Cooper, shares a unique perspective on that fateful night. He acknowledges that the fight was a result of the passion and competitiveness that both players brought to the game. Moncrief views the incident as a defining moment in the series against the Celtics who would advance in the 7th game at Boston Garden.
The Sidney Moncrief-Danny Ainge fight has become a symbol of the fierce competition that defined the NBA during the 1980s. The incident serves as a reminder of the intense passion and dedication that both Moncrief and Ainge brought to the game of basketball. Today, as the NBA continues to evolve, the story of their iconic altercation remains a testament to the power of sportsmanship, camaraderie, and the indomitable spirit of competition.