Things seemingly escalated out of nowhere late in Monday's matchup between the Raptors and the Cavaliers when Toronto's Serge Ibaka attacked Cleveland's Marquese Chriss. But now a source close to both teams has revealed what Chriss said that ignited the altercation.
The Athletic's Joe Vardon got in contact with multiple NBA insiders who disclosed that the fight ensued simply because Chriss told Ibaka to quit flopping.
"According to four Cavs sources and one with the Raptors—none named Chriss or Ibaka—Chriss said something very close to 'quit that shit,'" Verdon reported. "It could have been an accusation of flopping, or, as one Cav suggested, Chriss didn’t like Ibaka grabbing his jersey."
Ibaka slightly alluded to the unnecessary comment when explaining the incident to the Toronto Sun's Ryan Wolstat.
"Ibaka was mad at the chirping from Chriss," Wolstat tweeted. "Will not say anything further."
This contradicts the story coming from the Cavs locker room, where they think Ibaka is just a Cleveland hater. They reportedly feel that last night's blowout might have recalled the emotions Ibaka felt when Toronto continually lost to the Cavs during the LeBron era.
"The theory privately held inside the Cavaliers’ locker room: Years of frustration and a mountain of playoff losses against Cleveland spilled over, causing Ibaka to snap," Cleveland.com's Chris Fedor said before asking Kevin Love his opinion on the situation.
"That might have been exactly what it was," Love confirmed.
While it is doubtful that Ibaka (whose team is sitting at No. 2 in the Eastern Conference) is concerned about the past glory of a current lottery pick, losing in lackluster fashion to any franchise is enough to spark some resentment. When those emotions are combined with unwarranted trash talk, things might boil over.