Seth Udinski, FISM News
The NBA playoffs are in full swing, but this past week, two unfortunate developments occurred involving inappropriate behavior from fans. The incidents, both of which happened on Wednesday, occurred in two of the largest major sports markets in the United States – Philadelphia and New York City.
At the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, the top-seed Philadelphia 76ers hosted the 8th-seed Washington Wizards for the second game of their best-of-seven series. Philadelphia topped Washington 120-95 to take a 2-0 series lead. In the 4th quarter of the game, Washington’s superstar veteran guard, Russell Westbrook, left the game with an ankle injury. While walking off the court towards the tunnel, a fan threw popcorn on Westbrook’s head. Regardless of his wounded ankle, the fiercely competitive Westbrook attempted to confront the fan but was restrained by several members of the Wizards’ organization. The fan was immediately ejected from the game.
Though the incident in Philly was greatly disrespectful to Westbrook (and undoubtedly added to an already tarnished reputation of unruly behavior among Philadelphia sports fans), it was trumped by what happened at Madison Square Garden in New York.
The Knicks first playoff win since 2013 was tarnished by an incident in the 4th quarter, when Atlanta’s talented guard Trae Young lined up out of bounds for an inbound pass. A fan spat on Young, who had been the recipient of anger all night from the fans in New York. This fan was also ejected, and both fans have been denied entrance to their respective team’s arenas indefinitely.
Both teams released statements after the games in which they apologized on behalf of their fans. These actions also caused the NBA to release a statement reminding fans to guard their conduct as they begin to return to basketball games in droves:
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. An enhanced fan code of conduct will be vigorously enforced in order to ensure a safe and respectful environment for all involved.