Los Angeles Lakers forward Brandon Ingram said Monday that he accepts "full responsibility" for his role in starting Saturday's brawl that also saw Chris Paul and Rajon Rondo throw fists, all three players get ejected and subsequently suspended.
Ingram received the harshest punishment for his role in the fight, but was surprised he was benched just four games. The league said he was benched for "aggressively returning to and escalating the altercation and throwing a punch in the direction of Paul, confronting a game official in a hostile manner, and instigating the overall incident by shoving Rockets guard James Harden."
"I'm happy it's only four but I know I got to control my emotions a little better," Ingram told reporters at the Lakers shoot around ahead of a game against the San Antonio Spurs. Ingram will return Oct. 29 for the Lakers' game against the Minnesota Timberwolves. Rondo, who spit in Paul's face and threw punches, was suspended three games. Paul was suspended two games for putting his hand in Rondo's face and throwing punches.
Ingram's father, Donald, is a retired collegiate and high school referee who told USA TODAY Sports in 2016 that his son had been mentally "trained correctly" on where to "direct his frustration." But Saturday, Ingram unleashed his anger on Harden and referee Jason Phillips. On Monday, the three-year player said he apologized to his teammates for letting his temper get the best of him.
"It's my full responsibility," Ingram told reporters. "I think I'm the one that caused action and I'm going to take full responsibility for every action that I did. A hundred percent that I was wrong for my teammates."
Ingram was less apologetic about running back to the fight, though.
"I also stepped up for my teammates and that is what I'm going to do 10 times out of 10," he said. "I think I had seen five Rockets players, two of our guys. (That) told me to go back."
Rondo said he didn't feel obliged to address the team regarding his actions.
"Everyone knows who I am, my team," Rondo said. "And I think they still respect me for what I do and what I bring to this team."
Lakers coach Luke Walton will start Lonzo Ball and Kyle Kuzma in place of Rondo and Ingram.
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