Shoving matches are pretty common in football. Fights are common in hockey. Baseball even has the occasional benches-clearing brawl.
In the NBA however, fights are pretty uncommon. Even more uncommon is a fight involving a team’s best player. For the Orlando Magic on this day 20 years ago however, it was something they had to deal with.
In a nationally-televised contest against the Sacramento Kings, Tracy McGrady and Kings’ guard Bobby Jackson threw hands in overtime. Both players were ejected which served as the bigger blow to the Magic in a 114-108 loss.
Less than a minute remained in overtime on March 13, 2001 as the Magic found themselves on the short end of a 108-106 score. Fortunately for Orlando, it had the ball.
McGrady had the ball matched up with Jackson when Magic head coach Doc Rivers called for timeout with 35 seconds left in the extra period. Jackson appeared to grab McGrady’s arm as he turned before the Magic superstar threw the basketball off Jackson’s face. Jackson retaliated with a shove before McGrady reacted and the two went to the ground.
The fight led to an ejection for both players and Orlando was left to try to find a way to come up with a clutch basket. Unfortunately for the Magic, Pat Garrity’s go-ahead three-point attempt was no good.
Jon Barry made it a two-score game with two free throws for Sacramento. Darrell Armstrong was able to cut it back to two with 13 seconds to go, but the Magic didn’t score again. Peja Stojakovic and Doug Christie combined to make four straight free throws to seal the Sacramento victory.
Orlando trailed by as many as 14 in the first half, but managed to whittle that down to five by halftime. After trailing 57-52 at the break, the Magic used a 23-6 run to take an 11-point lead late in the third quarter.
The Kings cut the deficit to five at the end of three and used a Christie trey to regain the lead with less than two minutes to play. McGrady tied the game a minute later with a pair of free throws, but both teams missed chances to win in regulation. Stojakovic’s jumper with less than three minutes to play in overtime would put the Kings ahead for good.
McGrady paced the Magic with 25 points, but his ejection proved too much to overcome. Mike Miller and Garrity added 23 and 17 points, respectively, in the loss. Armstrong added 13 points for Orlando.
Chris Webber paced Sacramento with game-highs of 33 points and 15 rebounds. Stojakovic added 25 points in the loss while future Magic fan favorite Hedo Turkoglu scored 18 points off the Kings’ bench.
Despite a hard-fought basketball game between two good teams, the brawl between McGrady and Jackson led to a two-game suspension for the Magic superstar. Orlando would win both games, but the fight and suspension remains one of the more forgotten moments of McGrady’s tenure. It happened on this day two decades ago.