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Fight and Injury

When less than 12 minutes remained in the game, two important (and at the same time, somewhat controversial) events occurred.

The first event:

Dwight Jones (number 9) and Mikhail Korkia (number 11) got involved in a fight with each other. Both were sent off the court. I watched this episode frame by frame, so I can tell what happened.

Jones took a rebound, but when he landed, Korkia tried to pull the ball from Jones' hands. Dwight obviously didn't like this very much, so he started swinging his hands. He managed to hit Korkia four times: twice to the chin, once to the neck, one push in the chest. A boxing referee would have given him at least three points. I obviously see why Jones was sent off, but I fail to understand why Korkia deserved such a harsh punishment.

Some American players claimed that Korkia was a benchwarmer who was sent onto the court intending only to provoke Jones into a fight. However, Korkia was in the starting five and played enough in this game. That fact and the video prove that the claim is wrong.

Someone pointed out that Korkia might have been provoking Jones during the whole game, so Jones just "had enough."

I reviewed the game from the beginning, looking for any evidence to support that suggestion.

From the Soviet team, Zharmuhamedov (number 7) played against Jones in the first half, and Boloshev (number 8) replaced Zharmuhamedov in the second half. Korkia played against Forbes (number 10) in the first half, and then he was replaced. In the second half, Korkia entered the game a minute before the incident. I didn't see any dirty playing before the fight, but obviously, I could have missed something. It is important to note, however, that I didn't see any emotional reaction from Jones; there probably would have been one had such provocative tactics been used against him. I can conclude that there is no evidence to support the suggestion that Jones was provoked into a fight during the game.

The second event:

Only a few seconds later, Jim Brewer got injured during the toss of the jump ball. Again, some Americans suggested that Brewer was pushed.

Again, frame-by-frame viewing helps to reveal what happened. First, Belov jumped straight up and landed on the same very spot. The referee tossed the ball to an inconvenient spot for Brewer, so he had to bend backwards to reach out for the ball. At this moment, his legs moved forward to keep the balance. Thus, when he landed, his legs were not in a position to hold him up, and he fell on the back. His head continued to move and hit the floor. There was no foul play in that episode. It was bad luck, that's all.