While Richard Jefferson is best known to a younger generation of basketball fans as a key role player on the defending champion Cleveland Cavaliers, what's easy to forget is that in his younger days, he was known as something else altogether: one of the best wing players in the sport.
Jefferson might have never made an All-Star team in his career, but he did average at least 19 points in four of his first eight years in the league, as one of the key pieces on a dynamic New Jersey Nets team. It was a team which made two straight NBA Finals at the start of his career, thanks to a core that included Jefferson, Jason Kidd and Kenyon Martin among others.
As Jefferson explained to SLAM Magazine on Friday that the team was mostly tight, but there were one or two run-ins worth remembering. That included --- get this -- an actual fight with Martin.
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That's right, Jefferson found himself in a situation no one wants to find themselves in: Brawling with K-Mart.
And it all started thanks to Bonzi Wells.
"My rookie year, we had gone on a west coast road trip," RJ says. "We had gotten off to a really, really good start that year. We had lost four in a row on that west coast road trip.
"Towards the end of the game, me and Bonzi Wells are kinda getting into it. Kenyon's at the bottom of the free throw line and the referee tells Kenyon, 'Tell your rookie to be quiet because I don't wanna have to give him a technical this late into the game.'
Kenyon tells me, 'Hey Richard, be quiet.'
Bonzi Wells goes, 'Yeah! Listen to Kenyon and shut up.' I just lose it. I'm like, 'F, Bonzi! And F, you too, Kenyon!'
Yeah, that's not a good idea. And Martin made sure to let him know about it after the team returned to the locker room that night.
"I go and sit down, I'm mad, pissed off. I'm sitting down and Kenyon comes in the locker room pissed off. I stand up and he pushes me down in my seat. We have a full-on fistfight. The only thing that saved me is Aaron Williams, and you remember how big he was, grabbed him from the back to try and calm him down. My last swing hits Aaron Williams in his lip and busts his lip open. At that point in time, I realize what is going on. I have no problem fighting Kenyon. Aaron? I don't want any piece of," RJ says still with a quiver in his voice.
Honestly that's a wild story, and credit to Jefferson for being so willing to share it.
However, the best part is this: It didn't fracture the team, according to Jefferson, but instead brought it closer together.
"Even that fistfight right there, we both understood how much we wanted to win and that we were willing to fight anybody, including each other, to get that done."