Fatal stabbing of Filipino NBA fan shows the violent side of sports rivalries

June 8, 2018 - 6:14 PM
June 3, 2018; Oakland, CA, USA; Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (30) and Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James (23) go for a loose ball during the second quarter in game two of the 2018 NBA Finals at Oracle Arena. (photo by Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports/from Reuters)

The fatal stabbing incident in Zamboanga City Thursday evening between two Filipino cousins who are fans of the opposing Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors shows how professional sports can bring out both the best and the worst in people.

Off-court chaos

According to authorities, Henry Macapali was angered after a discussion with his cousin Marvic Macotocruz on the results of Game 3 of the 2018 National Basketball Association finals, where the Warriors upended in the Cavaliers 110-102.

The debate, which took place over alcoholic drinks, turned violent and Macapali beat up Macotocruz who retaliated by grabbing a kitchen knife and stabbing his assailant near the chest.

Macapili was rushed to the hospital but was pronounced dead on arrival. A relative was injured for attempting to stop the brawl.

The news has shocked and baffled fans across the basketball-savvy country.

The Warriors are up 3-0 in their finals series with the Cavaliers. This is the fourth straight championship bout between the two franchises. The 2015 and 2017 trophies went to Oakland while the 2016 trophy was brought to Cleveland by Lebron James and the Cavs, who are considered the perennial underdogs in the brewing rivalry.

Heated exchanges are common between the two teams.

The end of Game 1 of this year’s finals saw Tristan Thompson of the Cavaliers and Draymond Green of the Warriors figure in a shoving match that led to Thompson’s ejection.

Green on the one hand is considered to be one of the most physical players in the NBA, having been involved in a number of on-court scuffles throughout the years. A 2017 article by The Big Lead dubbed Green the “Foremost Expert on Dirty Play.

While fan violence has not been much of a problem for the NBA, there have been incidents of off-court violence in the world’s premiere basketball league.

Eight people died after fans took to the streets to celebrate the Detroit Pistons’ victory over the Portland Trail Blazers in the 1990 NBA finals.

The riots in Detroit saw a car plow into a crowd, a person falling from an apartment, and civilian-owned firearms going off.

Around 35 people were arrested from the brawls, looting, and vandalism that took place.

Hooliganism in football is still considered the biggest contributor to fan violence in professional sports.

In the football scene, particularly in Europe, gangs are known to be formed by the fiercest supporters of football clubs. These gangs, known sometimes as ‘ultras’, usually fight with supporters of competing clubs before and after matches.

A 2014 article published by The Atlantic titled “A Sociological History of Soccer Violence” discusses how social and cultural conflicts that fuel club rivalries and influence hooligans.

According to the article, the combination of economic and political pressures and the heightened excitement brought by sports fandom can lead to delinquent behavior in fans.