The Toronto Raptors, 104-95 overtime victors over the Los Angeles Clippers, expected to play without Vince Carter. But not Charles Oakley too.
Oakley, 36, was suspended three games without pay and fined $15,000 US for punching Clippers guard Jeff McInnis between the morning shootarounds.
The Clippers had concluded practice and were milling about with the media when the Raptors emerged to begin their workout.
Raptors extended by Clippers
Oakley, who is no stranger to controversy, smacked McInnis, who was so livid that he had to be restrained.
"I saw Oakley coming out of the tunnel. He passed by Jeff McInnis, who was sitting on the bench, and socked him," recounted Orange County Register sportswriter Art Thompson. "Jeff tried two or three times to get back at him, but players and coaches held him back."
"I thought it was a little severe," Raptors head coach Lenny Wilkens said of the suspension.
"I didn't see what happened, I was in the locker-room when it happened."
"It was a single hit," Clippers head coach Alvin Gentry explained. "I just saw the aftermath of it, so who knows.
"We're not talking about the most mature group of people in the world when you talk about pro athletes, so it could have been over anything.
"We talked to the guys and said we don't want ever to retaliate, which is tough to do in certain situations."
When accosted by the gaggle of reporters on hand, Oakley refused to discuss the incident.
Kevin Willis scored 19 points in place of Oakley, who will also miss road games against the Utah Jazz and Portland Trail Blazers next Tuesday and Wednesday.
"It's unfortunate, especially at this time, we don't need to lose a guy like Charles," Wilkens said.
Prior to Friday's homecourt win, the short-handed Raptors had lost two straight road games minus Carter, their leading scorer at 27.5 points per game.
He is listed day-to-day with an injured left quadricep tendon.
Oakley, meantime, is second on the team in rebounding (8.7) and assists (3.7) and one of the club's most abrasive defenders.