Alex Holt – The Most Devastating Punch Heard Around in the NBA World

The effects on Rudy Tomjanovich after receiving the fateful-hit from Kermit Washington.

The effects on Rudy Tomjanovich after receiving the fateful-hit from Kermit Washington.

This punch was the most infamous punch in the world. The receiver of this critical hit took a high amount of severe damage. So today, I will be talking about the most devastating punch heard around the NBA world.

December 9th, 1977: It was a regular NBA game between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Houston Rockets. A scuffle ensued on court between Kermit Washington and Kevin Kunnert. As the fight was being broken up, Rockets Forward Rudy Tomjonavich was trying to escort his teammates back to their seats. However, Kermit Washington took this as a threat and threw a roundhouse punch at Tomjanovich, knocking him down to the ground. The punch broke Tomjanovich’s nose and cut him from his left nostril to his lip. Washington was ejected from the stadium before the end of the game.

Washington was suspended for 60 days from the NBA and fined $10,000 from the incident. Tomjanovich had life-threatening head and spinal injuries, leaving him sidelined for five months. Tomjanovich’s skull was dislodged and both careers were almost destroyed after the incident. Tomjanovich suffered a broken nose, broken jaw, and a concussion. He was placed in intensive care for 36 hours in a LA hospital. Decades later after this incident, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar described hearing the punch in a documentary or interview of sorts by saying that “The punch was like hearing a watermelon being dropped to the ground.”

Although the heavy-hitting punch caused major damage, Tomjanovich was blessed to make a full recovery after the incident. Better than that, he was selected to take part on the NBA All-Star team in 1979. He led the 1993-1994 and 1994-1995 Houston Rockets to an NBA championship as the head coach. After his playing days were over, his jersey number (45) was retired from both the Houston Rockets and University of Michigan. Rudy was elected to the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame, and he has been happily married to his wife for almost 53 years now. He has two daughters and one son as he enjoys his life out in Austin, Texas.