“In these arenas, you got to start protecting the players,” said Russell Westbrook after a Sixers fan threw popcorn at him as he was leaving the floor during Wednesday’s Game 2 in Philadelphia. “We’ll see what the NBA does.”
Well, the NBA did something about it. More specifically, the 76ers did something about it. One day after the incident took place, the organization announced that the protagonist of the popcorn incident has been banned indefinitely from Wells Fargo Center and has had his season ticket membership revoked. “We apologize to Russell Westbrook and the Washington Wizards for being subjected to this type of unacceptable and disrespectful behavior,” the Sixers announced later on. “There is no place for it in our sport or arena.”
The NBA followed up with a statement of its own, saying, “an enhanced fan code of conduct will be vigorously enforced in order to ensure a safe and respectful environment for all involved.” It didn’t take long for the league to put its word into action.
Just hours later, the New York Knicks announced they had banned a fan who spat on Trae Young during Wednesday’s Game 2 at Madison Square Garden. “We apologize to Trae and the entire Atlanta Hawks organization for this fan’s behavior,” the team said. “This was completely unacceptable and will not be tolerated in our venue. We have turned the information over to the appropriate authorities.” The incident occurred early in the fourth quarter while the Hawks star was inbounding the ball on the sideline.
Two games into their first-round series, Young turned into the ultimate New York villain, with all kinds of chants directed at him by the Knicks fans at the Garden. But this “fan” in particular took it too far. Luckily for him, Trae has declined to press charges and he remains focused on Friday’s Game 3 in Atlanta.
Yesterday’s ban spree ended with the Utah Jazz after the incident that, up until that point, hasn’t been as publicized as the first two. The team banned three fans indefinitely for their vulgar and racist comments directed at Ja Morant’s parents during Game 2 on Wednesday night, after Tee Morant, the father of the Grizzlies‘ young star, pointed to three separate incidents that occurred at Vivint Arena, all of which were handled by arena security. Ja himself addressed the issue on social media.
as they should . my family should be able cheer for me & my teammates without getting inappropriate shit said to them 💯 https://t.co/CWiJIpkq03— Ja Morant (@JaMorant) May 28, 2021
my family told me they felt the love from all the other jazz fans who were around them 🤝 even bought each other drinks with a few.— Ja Morant (@JaMorant) May 28, 2021
those 3 just went too far 💯 https://t.co/1XvjXcPVOo
The Jazz also announced the statement, saying the organization has” zero tolerance for offensive or disruptive behavior,” apologizing to everyone impacted by the incident. The team’s star Donovan Mitchell also supported the bans. “I’m glad those fans were banned and they should never be allowed back…. this is ridiculous!!!,” he wrote on Twitter. “The fact that these words are being thrown around to players and there families is ridiculous! Enough is enough smh!” Kevin Durant also voiced his opinion online.
It’s all fun and games until ya ass banned for life.— Kevin Durant (@KDTrey5) May 27, 2021
The whole NBA brotherhood agrees on one thing — fans who go too far should face the long-term consequences for it. It’s good to know the league has the players’ back and is willing to act quickly.