Chicago Antonio Davis thought his wife was in danger, so the New York Knicks forward dashed over the scorer's table and into the stands during a timeout in overtime.
Just like that, an already heated game between the Knicks and Chicago Bulls evoked memories of last season's brawl between the Detroit Pistons and Indiana Pacers.
One difference, though.
Only words, not punches, were exchanged.
"I witnessed my wife being threatened by a man that I learned later to be intoxicated," Davis said in a statement issued after the game. "I saw him touch her, and I know I should not have acted the way I did, but I would have felt terrible if I didn't react. There was no time to call security. It happened too quickly."
Ben Gordon hit a game-winning jumper at the buzzer and scored 32 points for the Bulls in a 106-104 overtime victory Wednesday, but Davis' dash into the stands became the flash point of the game.
Davis ascended about 10 rows to reach his wife, Kendra, during a timeout with 1:04 left. There was no physical confrontation after he got there, but several people were pointing and shouting for a few moments before security arrived.
No arrests had been made as of early Thursday morning, police said.
"His wife and kids were up there," Knicks guard Jamal Crawford said. "If you see your family in harm's way, you're going to go protect them. You're the man of the house, and at that point you're thinking like a regular human instead of an athlete."
Davis, president of the NBA players' association, appeared calm throughout and walked away willingly when security arrived. He returned to the bench and took his seat before being ejected. The game resumed after about a five-minute delay.
United Center security remained in the stands for a few more minutes, and other fans appeared to be explaining what they had seen. Guards in suits and yellow jackets then escorted a group of people from the area.
Knicks coach Larry Brown said Davis went into the stands because he saw his wife "falling back."
Brown was coaching the Pistons in November 2004 when an ugly fight broke out in the stands between fans and Indiana Pacers players during a Detroit home game. An embarrassment for the NBA, the brawl led to criminal charges and lengthy suspensions for Ron Artest, Jermaine O'Neal and Stephen Jackson.
But Brown was adamant that this situation should be viewed differently.
"Come on, that's his wife," Brown said. "That's entirely different. I was worried about Kendra. That's why he went in the stands, he saw her falling back.
"That thing that happened in the stands had nothing to do with the two teams. That's a man concerned about his family."
Knicks forward Maurice Taylor added: "His wife was up there with his kids. There were two men up there getting into an altercation with them. It seemed like a no-brainer to me."
A few minutes before Davis went into the stands, Taylor ran across the lane and knocked down Duhon, who got up and shoved Taylor. That resulted in a double technical, and the two were soon ejected.
Duhon called it a "cheap shot."
Taylor said, "He set a screen on me. I got the foul. It's basketball. Whatever he wanted to do after that was to his judgment."
The altercations overshadowed Gordon's shot and Eddy Curry's return to Chicago. In his first game against the Bulls, the Knicks center finished with 11 points and four rebounds. He missed the final 7:06 of regulation after colliding with Gordon while diving for a loose ball.
Gordon hit 14 of 28 shots, none bigger than the last. He missed a shot at the end of regulation, but converted in overtime after taking the inbounds pass from Kirk Hinrich.
Gordon, who grew up just north of New York City in Mount Vernon, also beat the Knicks with a buzzer-beater at Madison Square Garden last season on Martin Luther King Day.
Hinrich finished with 18 points, eight assists, eight rebounds and three steals, while Andres Nocioni and Darius Songaila scored 14 apiece.
Crawford led the Knicks with 19 points, while Quentin Richardson added 17. Stephon Marbury sat out with a sprained left shoulder, ending a streak of 280 consecutive games played.
Davis, who used to play for the Bulls, had 16 points and nine rebounds.
The Bulls were ahead 102-99 after Songaila hit two free throws with 51.1 seconds left in overtime. Crawford went 2-of-3 from the line after being fouled by Nocioni to make it a one-point game. After Nocioni converted two foul shots with 8.3 seconds left, Crawford's 3 tied it at 104.