China’s Latest Basketball Brawl Illustrates The Sad Difference Between The CBA And Its Second-Tier League

The National Basketball League (NBL) is a semi-pro basketball league managed by the same suits who control the top-tier Chinese Basketball Association (CBA). The NBL’s playoffs are currently happening, but they’re not happening very well. As Jon Pastuszek of NiuBBall reports, “I invite you to keep an eye on the NBL playoffs, where not one, but two all-out brawls went down inside of three days last Friday and Sunday.”

The first brawl happened between Changsha and Hebei, but there is no video, so if you’re interested in what happened, check out Pastuszek’s informed write-up.

The second brawl, on Sunday, was in Dongguan, between Sichuan and Guangzhou Free Man. The video above shows Sichuan import David Palmer, who’s having an excellent series, get surrounded by people who are very angry before cooler heads prevail. (And yes, they absolutely prevail, thankfully.)

The story here, however, isn’t the fight, but the suspensions levied afterwards. Pastuszek again:

But the suspensions that have been handed out by the CBA? Those are very new: Three years apiece for Hebei’s Sun Chunlei and Ma Yuquan, and for Sichuan’s David Palmer. In addition, Sichuan head coach, Jason Rabedeaux, has been suspended for a year for insufficiently controlling his team. Guangzhou’s Sun Jian was suspended 10 games as were several other players.

I think this bear emphasizing: three years. One year. For doing what? I’ve seen worse fights on nationally televised CBA games. Were there any suspensions levied then? (Answer: no.) The home club would get fined some money, but that’s it. And what about the Georgetown brawl vs. Bayi, a CBA team? Or the New Orleans Hurricanes brawl with the Zhejiang Guangsha Lions, another CBA team, less than two months ago?

Pastuszek finishes with some excellent questions:

I don’t know what the CBA is trying to do here. The league has no recent history of levying multi-year suspensions and has given much lighter penalties for similar or even worse infractions. Is the NBL being used as an example to show the future consequences of brawling?  Or is this merely a short-term crackdown? Will CBA players and teams be held to the same standards once the season starts up in November? How can two players who were fighting each other — Sun Chunlei and Sun Jian — receive two vastly different suspension lengths? Why isn’t there any investigation being done into the officiating? Why was Rabedeaux suspended for a year was never even mentioned in the actual report? And how is he suspended for a year for insufficiently controlling his team? What does that even mean?

I’m sure people in the CBA office in Beijing are scrambling to find answers.

(No, they’re not.)

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