There were an estimated half-dozen individual altercations on the court, and eventually some Chinese onlookers joined the fracas, including one wielding a stanchion. As the brawl spilled beyond the baseline, an unidentified Bayi player pushed Georgetown’s Aaron Bowen through a partition to the ground before repeatedly punching the sophomore guard while sitting on his chest.
Georgetown senior center Henry Sims had a chair tossed at him by an unidentified person, and freshman forward Moses Ayegba, who was wearing a brace on his right leg, limped onto the court with a chair in his right hand. According to Georgetown officials, Ayegba had been struck, prompting him to grab a chair in self-defense.
The brawl occurred one night after Vice President Biden, who is in Beijing on a four-day visit to discuss U.S.-Chinese economic relations, attended a Georgetown game against another Chinese club at the Olympic Sports Center. That game, which was won by Georgetown, passed without incident.
The turbulent ending to Thursday night’s contest marred what had been billed as the second game of a two-day “China-U.S. Basketball Friendship Match” in Beijing. Georgetown intended for the team’s 10-day trip to China to be an athletic, cultural and educational exchange designed to promote the school internationally.
It was unclear whether the brawl would affect similar ventures in the future. The Georgetown delegation, which included university President John DeGioia, other school officials and prominent alumni and boosters, was scheduled to fly to Shanghai on Friday. Thompson said the team would continue with the remainder of its itinerary.
A State Department official and a Chinese Embassy spokesman in Washington both called the melee “unfortunate.”
“We look to these types of exchanges to promote good sportsmanship and strengthen our people-to-people contact with China,” said the U.S. official, who was not authorized to speak for attribution.
“We believe the organizers of the matches and the two teams will address the issue properly, the sportsmanship and people-to-people friendship the matches are meant to represent will prevail,” said the Chinese spokesman, Wang Baodong, in an e-mail.
Xinhua News Agency, China’s official news service, did not have an immediate account of the game, and although other prominent Chinese Web sites such as 163.com and sina.com posted stories, government censors shortly thereafter took them down.