Russell Westbrook was forced to leave Game 2 against the 76ers with 10:28 left in the fourth, after going down with an ankle injury. As he was helped off the court, a Sixers fan dumped popcorn on him, infuriating Westbrook so much that he had to be held back by multiple team staffers and arena security.
Russ, who played 29 minutes and had 10 points, 6 rebounds, and 11 assists in a 120-95 loss to Philadelphia, addressed the incident after the game.
To be completely honest, this s**t is getting out of hand, especially for me. The amount of disrespect, the amount of fans just doing whatever the f**k they want to do — it’s just out of pocket. There are certain things that cross the line. Any other setting, if a guy were to come up on the street and pour popcorn on my head, you know what happen. In these arenas, you got to start protecting the players. We’ll see what the NBA does.Russell Westbrook, ESPN
The event enticed reactions from other NBA individuals. Bradley Beal described it as “disgusting,” and the Wizards head coach Scott Brooks said a fan’s act was “very disrespectfull,” and that “Philadelphia is better than that.” Other NBA players, most notably LeBron James, also expressed their frustration on social media.
By the way WE AS THE PLAYERS wanna see who threw that popcorn on Russ while he was leaving the game tonight with a injury!! There’s cameras all over arenas so there’s no excuse! Cause if the 👟 was on the other 🦶🏾.🎥 #ProtectOurPlayers— LeBron James (@KingJames) May 27, 2021
The fan was immediately ejected from the game. The only question is, is he going to face long-term consequences? Judging by a statement from Wells Fargo Center’s president of business operations, Valerie Camillo, who said “this type of behaviour has no place in our arena,” a lifetime ban is on the table. And there’s precedent for it.
In ’19, a fan in Utah received a lifetime ban for using a derogatory term in talking to Westbrook while he was with the Thunder. For years ago, Russ was involved with another fan-related incident. The protagonist of this one was ejected for flipping off the superstar point guard.
For me, there are a lot of incidents where fans, they say whatever, and the consequences for me are a lot more instrumental than to the fans in the stands because they feel they are untouchable. To get food thrown on top of me, it’s just bulls**t.Russell Westbrook, ESPN
Let’s hope the NBA takes necessary actions and the fan who threw popcorn at Westbrook gets the same treatment the Jazz fan got. There should be no place for that type of conduct in NBA arenas.
Meanwhile, Westbrook’s status for Game 3 on Saturday is to be determined. The Wizards are down 2-0, and his availability is crucial for Washington to have any chance of making the series competitive. So far, it hasn’t been that way.