Back in the day, when OJ was still admired, when network anchors were trusted father figures and when yours truly was still a size six, the best televised NBA 'fight' occurred, IMO.
It involved the Showtime-Era Lakers (of course), specifically Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Magic Johnson, along with some nameless player from an Eastern Conference team.
Kareem had a reputation for taking no crap from anyone. After being man-handled and derided for being soft in the early part of his career—for a man over seven feet, he was relatively slender and for a professional athlete, relatively taciturn—he began to take up martial arts and build up his naturally slender body.
Normally rather cool-headed, he would occasionally lose his temper, often with ample justification. (I recall seeing a photo of his arms after one particular game: both arms were covered with bloody scratches.) After the infamous Kent Benson incident—in which Kareem sucker-punched Benson after being doubled-over by a Benson elbow to the midsection—the attempted intimidation of “the Big Fella” ceased.
Magic, on the other hand, had a reputation of being more of a lover than a fighter (in his case, most unfortunately). Though I fuzzily recall Magic being involved in at least one brawl, for the most part, he would back down, even if severely provoked.
On the day I was watching, some young player, smaller than the 6’9” Magic, pushed the latter in the chest: ample provocation for a serious smack-down. But Magic declined the invite. He held up his hands in the surrender mode and could be heard speaking to the other player: “Man, what’s wrong with you? I’m not here to fight.” So what does the guy do? He pushes Magic again!
But before Magic could respond, a purple, gold and brown blur sped into the picture and the incident was over.
In the replay, the camera is pulled back to catch the entire incident. Kareem was standing about twenty feet behind Magic observing the developing situation. Somewhere in the midst of the second push, Kareem took about two steps to end up beside Magic. He shoved Magic behind him as if Magic had weighed one hundred pounds. Then he bent down and put his nose about a fraction of an inch away from that of the other player.
This time it was the other player who held his hands up in surrender, while taking a couple of steps backward just to avoid misunderstanding.
No fans were harmed in the outcome of that incident. :-)