The things we have seen just in the past couple of days of the NBA playoffs have been disrespectful, unintelligent, uncalled for and downright disgusting. Fans have been a big part of the game for decades and you would think that following the COVID-19 pandemic and being out of the arenas for so many months, fans would be grateful to be back. That appears to not be the case.
In Game 2 of the Washington Wizards series against the Philadelphia 76ers, Wizards point guard Russell Westbrook left the game early due to injury. As he was walking off the court and into the tunnel, a Sixers fan dumped a carton of popcorn onto Westbrook’s head. Westbrook was furious, and rightfully so, and tried to go confront the fan while security and the trainers continued to usher him into the locker room.
NBA players around the league react to the fans recent assaults on the players
Since the incident, the 76ers announced that they have suspended the fan’s season tickets and banned them from returning to the Wells Fargo Center.
The 76ers had the following to say.
"“[The fan] will have his season ticket membership revoked, effectively immediately. In addition, he will be banned from all events at Wells Fargo Center indefinitely.”"
Yesterday was not a great day for the normal fans of the world as another incident occurred in Madison Square Garden. In Game 2 of the Atlanta Hawks series against the New York Knicks, a fan appeared to spit on Hawks point guard Trae Young. An unbelievably disgusting act for anyone, much less someone who had the privilege of being there, to commit. The New York Knicks later announced that the fan, who has been identified, is banned indefinitely from Madison Square Garden.
The Knicks released the following statement.
"“We investigated the matter and determined that this patron, who is not a season ticket holder, did indeed spit on Trae Young, and for that reason, he is now banned from The Garden indefinitely. We apologize to Trae and the entire Atlanta Hawks organization for this fan’s behavior. This was completely unacceptable and will not be tolerated in our venue. We have turned the information over to the appropriate authorities.”"
The NBA prides itself on being a league that focuses on protecting its players, which Russell Westbrook touched on in his post-game press conference.
"“To be completely honest, this s— is getting out of hand, especially for me. The amount of disrespect, the amount of fans just doing whatever the f— they want to do — it’s just out of pocket. There are certain things that cross the line. Any other setting … a guy were to come up on the street and pour popcorn on my head, you know what happens. In these arenas, you got to start protecting the players. We’ll see what the NBA does.”"
Players at home watching the playoffs also chimed in. Lakers superstar LeBron James tweeted the following message.
James wasn’t the only one to chime in on the issues as Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green also took to Twitter to voice frustrations.
Brooklyn Nets superstar forward Kevin Durant tweeted following the news of the fans getting banned.
Unfortunately, these antics have been going on for decades, look back at the Malice at the Palace, and will most likely continue long into the future. Fans need to begin to realize that it’s a privilege to go to these games and witness greatness, not a right. An enhanced code of conduct has been released for NBA fans, but time will tell if enforcement will be enough.