Isaiah Thomas and the 40 Stitch "Lesson"
In December 1991, Isiah Thomas, one of the league's most loved superstars, was driving to the basket and Karl Malone "went for the ball" but somehow managed to hit Isiah's face so hard with an "unintentional" elbow that Thomas had to be carries from the court and required plastic surgery and forty ststches.
Malone was assessed a flagrant foul and given a $10,000 fine and a one-game suspension. Malone, of course, claimed it was an accident and did not mean to hurt Thomas. After the incident, he talked to Isiah and denied the elbow was deliberate and offered no apology.
As Michael Lowe, D.P.M., team podiatrist for the Utah Jazz, remembered it in remarks at the 1996 AAPSM annual meeting:
Isiah Thomas was driving the lane hard to the basket when Karl swatted at the ball but missed and caught Isiah across the eye brow with his elbow. Again the smaller mass paid the price from the 265 lb. Malone. Thomas went down hard to the court. His initial reaction was that he had been shot in the head by some one in the stands. I looked down to see if the Orthopedic Surgeon was going on to the court, he wasn't in his seat, he had gone outside of the court area to answer a page. Isiah was hemorrhaging from the laceration quite badly and was badly dazed from the impact with Karl's elbow. I went down to see if I could help the trainer, since there was general mayhem on the court. I suggested that we put a collar on him and get a back board to carry him off the court. It was at this point that Bill Lambier grabbed me from behind and practically lifted me off the ground by the neck, telling me that Isiah wasn't going to leave the court that way. This was done by shouting about 2 inches away directly into my face. Before I could react from his shove to my chest to get me out of the way, he picked Isiah Thomas up like you would pick up your three year old son, and carried him very carefully into the locker room for further evaluation. It was at about this time the Orthopod showed up. I gladly turned the situation, and Bill Lambier, over to him. Isiah had a lacerated artery across the brow and was bleeding quite profusely. Lambier refused to leave his side. Since Isiah had a poster boy like face, the Orthopedic surgeon elected to have him transported to the hospital for a Plastic Surgeon to do the primary repair. Lambier went with him to the hospital too. That's what I call team support.
Of course, Malone supports his team, too -- only he does it by hurting opponents, not helping his teammates