A major brawl between basketball players and match officials have gone viral on social media after the crazy all-in melee kicked off at a youth game in Atlanta on Sunday.
Chicago’s Raw Athletics and the Houston Raptors of Texas were playing at the Lakepoint Sports facility in Emerson, Georgia when things kicked off. A video shared by Houston writer Doug Jones shows a referee on the floor as players surround him. Another match official and others race over and more shoving ensues.
At one stage, a non-uniformed participant is confronted by one of the officials, who appears to hit him before the pair fall to the ground and those nearby join in, with some throwing punches.
Footage of the brawl spread across social media. Various clips showed what appeared to be a series of fights between different players and officials.
One clip shows a player hitting a topless man, seemingly one of the referees, in the head. An official runs over and slams the player against the bleachers.
The Emerson Police Department was called to the complex after the incident and has launched an investigation, ESPN reports. According to a since-deleted tweet by the Raw Athletics’ coach, Howard Martin, the referee is accused of starting the violence.
He told ESPN that one of his players had complained about a call the referee made. “The ref didn’t like it,” he said. “So the other team inbounded the ball, walked it up, the ref said to my player, ‘Say it again.’ Then he teed him up and kicked him out of the game. “And he walked behind him, still having words. Then the ref pushed my player, and they squared up right by my bench. When they squared up, another one of my players jumped off the bench and took [the ref] down. We separated them.”
Martin’s account was disputed by Houston Raptors coach Bobby Benjamin who said it was Martin and his team who instigated the violence, and that a player bumped the referee with his shoulder after he called a technical foul against him.
“The referee definitely didn’t attack the kids,” he said. “Absolutely not. Once things got going, and he was attacked… he got assaulted. They were too outnumbered to even try to defend themselves.”
The game has been widely reported as being part of the Amateur Athletic Union, but the AAU has released a statement denying it licensed the game.
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