With 3:40 left in the third quarter, a fan ran onto the court to jump and touch the backboard, as the Wizards were coming down on offense. The refs stopped the game before the fan was tackled by a security guard and pulled off the floor. He was later arrested.
Monumental Sports & Entertainment, the parent company of the Wizards, issued a statement after the game, claiming no tolerance will be shown when fans "violate code of conduct at Capital One Arena." They confirmed the fan behind yesterday's incident will be banned from the arena and will also face criminal charges.
"This is not a game or some s--- you can just do whatever you want to do and run around," Russell Westbrooksaid after putting up a monster triple-double with 19 points, 21 rebounds, and 14 assists in Washington's 122-114 win. "This is our job, and we take our job very seriously."
Their job and how well they are doing it was once again overshadowed by an attention-seeking individual, which in no way should represent the rest of the Wizards' fan base. Neither should fans behind incidents that took place over the last two weeks.
But the cumulative effect of their misbehavior increases suspense about how the rest of the postseason will play out. That's why the NBA needs to find a way to put an end to it. The lifetime bans are obviously not doing the trick.
Charles Barkley offered an alternative, lobbying for the league to allow players to handle the disrespectful fans themselves. And although the rule change Chuck is advocating for will never come to life, it isn't crazy to assume players might decide to take matters into their own hands if the streak of fan-related incidents continues. It's sure what Bradley Beal would've done yesterday had he been a target of antics by the Wizards fan.
The series shifts back to Philadelphia as the 76ers look to close things out in front of their fans. Hopefully, without any incidents this time around. That's in everyone's best interest because, at some point, players will be fed up. And if you think they're scared to react, think again. Let's just hope it doesn't come to that.