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The Punch

One Night, Two Lives, and the Fight That Changed Basketball Forever

By John Feinstein
Narrated by Richard Davidson / 12 hours 39 minutes

Tearing open the deepest wound in professional sports, Feinstein uncovers the secrets of the NBA before and after that fateful moment in December of 1977 whe the face of professional hoops was changed forever. It was a chilly December evening and the Los Angeles Coliseum was buzzing as the Lakers hosted the Houston Rockets. As two players, Houston's Rudy Tomajanovich and LA's Kermit Washington were warming up, they were unaware their lives were about to be destroyed. The game began and as Tomjanovich trailed a play up the court, a small skirmish broke out between Washington and another Rocket player. Dropping the ball, Tomjanovich approached the tussling men hoping to break up the fight and resume the game. But instead, his face met the powerful fist of Kermit Washington. The punch, so brutal on impact, left most of the bones in Tomjanovich's face broken and spinal fluid leaking from cracked vertebrae. Although he nearly died, Tomjanovich recovered from his injuries. But his game was never the same. After a two month suspension, Washington retook the court but had lost his touch. His snap reaction had irrevocably killed two careers--and the way the NBA played basketball forever.

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