The return to watching sports in person, including the NBA playoffs, is supposed to be a happy time, but clearly some fans have forgotten how to behave.
Following incidents in which fans were unruly and outright disrespectful toward players on Wednesday, three NBA teams banned fans indefinitely on Thursday.
“The return of more NBA fans to our arenas has brought great excitement and energy to the start of the playoffs, but it is critical that we all show respect for players, officials and our fellow fans,” the league said in a statement. “An enhanced fan code of conduct will be vigorously enforced in order to ensure a safe and respectful environment for all involved.”
The NBA Players Association also issued a statement, claiming that “no true fan” wishes to harm players or infringe on their personal space.
“Respect for our players is essential. Please respect our game “The NBPA issued a statement.
Here’s a rundown of the events:
Russell Westbrook of the Washington Wizards rolled his ankle in the fourth quarter of Game 2 of the Wizards-Philadelphia 76ers series on Wednesday.
The TV broadcast showed a fan pouring popcorn on Westbrook while he was limping to the locker room of the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, which enraged him. Westbrook had to be restrained from diving into the crowd.
“I’m all for the fans enjoying the game and having fun. It’s part of sports. I get it. But there’s certain things that cross the line,” Westbrook said during a post-game interview Wednesday.
According to a statement released by the 76ers on Thursday, an investigation into the incident revealed that the fan was a season ticket holder who has been banned indefinitely from all Wells Fargo Center events.
“We’re proud to have the most passionate fans in the country and the best home-court and home-ice advantage around, but this type of behavior has no place in our arena,” Camillo’s statement read.
The Wells Fargo Center’s president of business operations, Valerie Camillo, also issued a statement, calling the fan’s behavior “classless” and “unacceptable.”
In support of Westbrook, NBA superstar LeBron James tweeted that the players were curious as to who poured the popcorn, using the hashtag #ProtectOurPlayers.
This isn’t the first time Westbrook has been mocked by fans. In 2019, a fan was accused of yelling racially insensitive comments at Westbrook, and in 2018, Westbrook shoved a fan who got too close.
The New York Knicks confirmed Thursday that a fan spit on Atlanta Hawks guard Trae Young while he was trying to inbound the ball Wednesday during Game 2 of their playoff series.
The Knicks released a statement confirming the fan’s actions and indefinitely banned the fan from Madison Square Garden.
“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 team’s statement read.
Young’s father, Ray Young, tweeted his frustration Thursday about his son’s incident and the Westbrook incident.
“Gotta get this under control,” Ray Young tweeted. “I can deal with all the chants about my son, it comes with it. But this needs to be addressed.”
In Game 2 of the Western Conference first-round playoff series on May 26, 2021, Ja Morant of the Memphis Grizzlies tries to drive between Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert of the Utah Jazz.
According to the Utah Jazz, three fans were removed by security staff during Game 2 of the playoff series between the Utah Jazz and the Memphis Grizzlies in Salt Lake City on Wednesday.
According to the team, those three fans have been banned indefinitely.
Tee Morant, the father of Grizzlies guard Ja Morant, told ESPN about three incidents that happened to him and his wife, Jamie Morant.
A sexually explicit remark was made to Jamie Morant, according to Morant. “I’ll put a nickel in your back and watch you dance, boy,” said another fan, according to Tee Morant of ESPN. “Shut the f—- up, b——,” the third fan ejected told Jamie Morant, according to Tee Morant of ESPN.
A team spokesman told CNN that fans were removed and banned due to disruptive behavior and abusive language, but cited privacy as a reason for not providing further details about the individuals. It’s unclear if the fans described by Tee Morant to ESPN are the same ones who were banned by the Jazz.
“The Utah Jazz have zero tolerance for offensive or disruptive behavior,” the Jazz said in a statement. “We apologize to all who were impacted by this unfortunate incident and condemn unacceptable fan behavior. The Utah Jazz are committed to ensuring a safe and respectful environment.”
Ja Morant expressed his displeasure on Twitter on Thursday, saying that his family should be able to support him and his teammates without being subjected to derogatory remarks.
LeBron James praised the NBA and the teams for protecting their players after the Lakers’ win on Thursday night.
“All the heckling, that’s great. We don’t mind that. We’re going to hear the boos. We understand that. Maybe be a couple curse words here and there,” James said. “We understand that as well. Actually, I love that. I’m actually OK with that,”
“However, there is a limit. And I think we’re all grown and we all know what the line is when you cross it,” he added.