Renaldo Balkman’s attack on his own teammates will stick forever with fans, his teammates and, ultimately, with himself.  (Photo by KC Cruz)

Special to the Filipino Reporter

The Philippines was supposed to be a fresh start for former New York Knicks forward Renaldo Balkman, but after a display of unsportsmanlike behavior that was unprecedented in the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA), Balkman finds himself banned from the league for life.

Balkman, who signed on in December as the Petron Blaze Boosters’ import player, lost his cool with 21.6 seconds left in a PBA Commissioner’s Cup game against Alaska Aces at Araneta Coliseum on March 8, bumping all three referees, shoving assistant coach Biboy Ravanes and teammates Roland Tubid and Arwind Santos who tried to interfere before the situation escalated any further.

When Santos responded and shoved Balkman back, Balkman took it a step further and choked him.

The whole display was televised live in the Philippines on AKTV.

Balkman took to Twitter later that night to apologize to his teammates, team and the league for his behavior.

“I got caught up in the moment of a very intense game. I respect (Santos) as a person and player. This was unintentional towards (Santos), I am a team player who always has the best interest of the team at heart. I accept all responsibilities for my actions while playing an intense game, I have truly enjoyed my time here playing in the Philippines.”

After meeting with PBA commissioner Chito Salud for an hour, Balkman was handed a lifetime ban and a 250,000 peso ($6,150) fine.

The incident and ruling caused a storm in social media throughout the PBA community and fans.

San Miguel Coffee Mixers’ head coach Tim Cone reacted via Twitter to the decision:

“If the Balkman incident had happened in practice or in the locker room, then you could maybe smooth it out, but on national TV? Mahirap.”

Balkman, 28, of Staten Island, N.Y., is hardly a stranger to controversy, having been suspended for fighting with Corey Smith as far as back as his sophomore year at the University of South Carolina.

He was also suspended a game in 2011 for headbutting a Venezuelan player in the FIBA Tournament of the Americas while representing Puerto Rico, and in 2008 had to sit out a game for elbowing Lakers forward Sasha Vujacic while playing as a Knick.

“In arriving at this decision, I took into consideration Balkman’s track record as a player,” wrote Salud in a statement on the PBA’s website.

“Stiff as it may be, this decision upholds the tenets of contextual accountability and the over-all interest of the League and the fans.”

Both Santos and Petron coach Olsen Racela spoke out in his defense, asking for Balkman to be given a second chance, but to no avail.

The Knicks drafted Balkman with the 20th pick of the 2006 Draft.

After posting moderate numbers in two seasons, Balkman was traded to the Denver Nuggets in 2008 in a cash dump move by the Knicks.

Balkman was traded back to the Knicks in 2011 in the deal that brought Carmelo Anthony and Chauncy Billups to New York but struggled to find playing time before being released last year to make space for J.R. Smith.

Balkman had averaged 25 points, 13.4 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 2.7 blocks for Petron, but now leaves his team without an import player.


Ryan Songalia is a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America (BWAA) and contributes to The Ring magazine and GMA News. He can be reached at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . An archive of his work can be found at www.ryansongalia.com. Follow him on Twitter: @RyanSongalia.

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