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The Only Surprising Thing About Kelly Oubre Jr. Body-Checking Kelly Olynyk Is That It Didn’t Happen Sooner

A brief history of the Celtics and Wizards’ mutual dislike

(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

This piece has been updated.

The NBA playoffs has transformed into KELLY-ON-KELLY WARFARE, as Wizards forward Kelly Oubre Jr. took a break from basketball playing to deck Celtics center Kelly Olynyk after Oubre was the target of a hard screen from the Boston big man on Thursday:

It’s the greatest Kelly-Kelly fight since Kelly Kelly. It also probably wasn’t a smart move on Oubre’s part, considering he’s a pivotal part of the Wizards and they need to rally back from a 2–0 series deficit against the team with the best record in the Eastern Conference. He’ll likely see a suspension due to the incident.

Olynyk has a history of playing dirtier than is legal — Kevin Love said that Olynyk intentionally injured him in the 2015 playoffs, and Olynyk seemed to try the same move on Robin Lopez in this year’s first round. The screen on Oubre wasn’t dirty — honestly, I’m not sure it was even a foul — but Olynyk has a reputation, and when you think a silly-haired Canadian man is getting dirty with you, you have to stand up for yourself.

But more importantly, there is long-standing beef here: It began when then–Wizards coach Randy Wittman was accused of cursing out Jae Crowder, but it’s gotten more serious since. Crowder booped John Wall in the nose during a postgame yelling fit, leading to teammates separating the two on the court and police separating them off it. Wall once picked up a flagrant foul on Marcus Smart before the two yelled at each other, then Bradley Beal got in Smart’s face (also Smart once broke Beal’s nose). Otto Porter Jr. said the Celtics are dirty, and the Wizards famously dressed in black for a “funeral” game against the Celtics.

It’s continued in this series, through Isaiah Thomas losing a tooth, Al Horford accidentally injuring Markieff Morris, Morris “accidentally” shoving Horford into some photographers, and Morris and Thomas yelling at each other. After the Kelly-on-Kelly scuffle, Terry Rozier and Brandon Jennings resumed their minor beef with each other until they were ejected in the fourth quarter.

Morris called Washington’s first-round series against the Hawks “double MMA.” Let’s make this series more interesting. Let’s ratchet this up to quintuple MMA. People have tried it, and it’s absolutely disgusting and great to watch. Let’s have these teams fight each other, get all that out of their systems, and then get back to the basketball — because that’s been pretty good too.