On Wednesday night, two basketball fans completely crossed the line.
When the Washington Wizards Russell Westbrook suffered an apparent ankle injury and began to walk back into the locker room, a Philidelphia 76ers fan dumped popcorn on him as he passed through the tunnel. Westbrook, understandable, looked as if he wanted to confront the fan and was held back by team personnel.
fan pours popcorn on Westbrook as he’s being assisted off floor with an injury pic.twitter.com/tGcn4kqRqq
— Rob Perez (@WorldWideWob) May 27, 2021
Then, during the New York Knicks vs. Atlanta Hawks game, a Knicks fan could be seen trying to spit on Trae Young.
Gotta get this under control. @russwest44 gets popcorn thrown on him & @TheTraeYoung gets spat on. I can deal with all the chants about my son, it comes with it. But this needs to be addressed.@NBAonTNT @NBA @espn @nyknicks @NBATheJump https://t.co/0WoO5jtAc2
— Ray Young (@rayfordyoung) May 27, 2021
Why either fan thought this was remotely acceptable is completely beyond me. Booing, chanting, and chirping may all be a part of the game atmosphere, but when actions are taken to personally or physically disrespect players, it’s classless. Fortunately, both fans have now been banned indefinitely.
The 76ers released a statement apologizing to Westbrook, noting the fan who committed the action had his season ticket membership revoked immediately and will not be allowed to attend any events at Wells Fargo Arena.
— Philadelphia 76ers (@sixers) May 27, 2021
The New York Knicks responded to their situation similarly, releasing a statement saying the fan who spit has been identified and banned from Madison Square Garden.
— NEW YORK KNICKS (@nyknicks) May 27, 2021
The NBA has now said that an advanced code of conduct will be administered to ensure that no further actions like this happen again.
The NBA issued the following statement today: pic.twitter.com/AVR9zXrkm9
— NBA Communications (@NBAPR) May 27, 2021
The fact the NBA has to release such a message is unfortunate, and I’m hoping we get through the rest of the postseason smoothly. Anyway, Westbrook summed up how it feels to be on the players side quite well, so I’ll end things with that:
"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, man."
—Russ after a fan poured popcorn on him in Philly pic.twitter.com/NLvjg8fg3S
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) May 27, 2021