Filipino hoop fans created quite a stir on social media when news came out that former NBA player Renaldo Balkman was allowed to play in the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) again.
Balkman, who most notably played for the New York Knicks, was banned from the Philippines' lone professional league and was hit with a P250,000 fine for his actions in a game during the 2013 season.
But PBA commissioner Willie Marcial lifted his lifetime ban from the PBA on Tuesday, March 27 - a little over five years since the incident.
For the sake of history, let's a take a quick look at how this whole saga developed over the years.
March 8, 2013
With just less than a minute remaining in the game between the Petron Blaze Boosters and Alaska Aces, Balkman blows his top and complains to the referees. The Petron import has just six points on a dismal 3-of-16 shooting from the field and is frustrated with the game officiating.
He melts down and makes contact with referees, and shoves an assistant coach and Ronald Tubid, who are trying to pacify him. Balkman's uncontrollable aggressiveness continues as he strangles teammate Arwind Santos by the neck. Petron goes on to lose the game, 83-73. After the game, Balkman goes on Twitter to apologize for his behavior.
March 9, 2018
Still regretting his actions from the night before, Balkman posts a series of tweets, saying how it wasn't his intention to hurt anyone, especially his teammates, and that he was just "caught up in the moment."
This was unintentional towards @arwindsotnas, I am a team player who always has the best interest of the team at heart.— Renaldo Balkman (@R_Balkman32) March 8, 2013
March 10, 2013
A couple of days after the controversial incident, Balkman appears on an interview on Interaktv. There he issues a public apology to the PBA, the fans, his team and teammates, saying it was all unintentional and insists he is a "good guy."
As the interview continues, Arwind Santos comes on and says he and Balkman, immediately after the game inside the team's dugout, had buried the hatchet.
March 11, 2013
Then commissioner Chito Salud appears before the media and issues a statement. For his actions on March 8, Balkman is banned from playing in the PBA and receives a fine of P250,000.
Upon making his decision, Salud says he took into consideration the Petron import's track record, "including the head-butting incident during a FIBA-Americas game between Puerto Rico and Venezuela and his altercation with the bench of the Alaska Aces during a pre-Season game in Cebu City."
The news of the lifetime ban makes it on the ESPN U.S. site. Balkman, who averaged 25.0 points, 13.4 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 2.7 blocks for Petron, bids goodbye to the league, vowing on Twitter that "this situation will never happen again."
I would like to apologize to @arwindsotnas a person who I truly respect and would never intentionally harm, my actions were irresponsible— Renaldo Balkman (@R_Balkman32) March 11, 2013
I accept all responsibilities for my actions while playing an intense game, I have truly enjoyed my time here playing in the Philippines— Renaldo Balkman (@R_Balkman32) March 11, 2013
I respect the Philippine Basketball Association and @PetronBlaze Organization, this situation will never happen again...its a lesson learned— Renaldo Balkman (@R_Balkman32) March 11, 2013
September 3, 2014
For the first time since he got banned from the PBA, Renaldo Balkman faces Filipino players as Gilas Pilipinas takes on Puerto Rico in the 2014 FIBA World Cup in Spain. Puerto Rico goes on to take a 77-73 win, eliminating Gilas from contention, but Balkman is a non-factor with only two points.
January 1, 2018
Balkman makes his return to the Philippines after signing with San Miguel Alab Pilipinas as an import in the ASEAN Basketball League.
January 9, 2018
In an interview with several members of the media, Arwind Santos says he is fine with Balkman making a possible return to the PBA. The incident, he adds, is water under the bridge and that "everyone deserves a second chance."
March 14, 2018
Balkman submits two letters of appeal - one to current commissioner Willie Marcial and one to former league chief Chito Salud, expressing his intention to play again in the PBA.
March 23, 2018
PBA commissioner Willie Marcial and a few other league executives meet with Balkman and his agent, Sheryl Reyes, at the PBA office.
March 27, 2018
The league lifts its lifetime ban on Balkman, allowing him to play in the PBA starting the 2018 Commissioner's Cup. Marcial says he sought approval first from Salud and Santos before making the decision.
Balkman's agent, Sheryl Reyes, says there's a "huge possibility" he would suit up again for the SMB franchise.