No sooner did the league open up arenas for ticketholders than a few unruly NBA fans are banned for bad behavior.
In separate incidents involving the Washington Wizards’ Russell Westbrook and the Atlanta Hawks’ Trae Young, fans who crossed the line were met with swift punishment.
A Sixers season ticket holder dumped popcorn on a visibly upset Russell Westbrook as he left the arena with an injury and Philly responded by putting their own kind of hurt on the perpetrator.
The Sixers issued an apology and said the fan would have their tickets revoked and be banned from all events at the arena.
— Philadelphia 76ers (@sixers) May 27, 2021
At Madison Square Garden, where fans are enjoying their first Knicks playoff series in eight years, a fan was seen spitting at Young.
— Trae Young (@TheTraeYoung) May 27, 2021
The fan was later identified and banned from the Garden indefinitely.
“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,” the Knicks said.
In a statement issued Thursday morning, the NBA said it would “vigorously enforce” fan behavior.
“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 statement said. “An enhanced fan code of conduct will be vigorously enforced in order to ensure a safe and respectful environment for all involved.”
Bad fan behavior is nothing new; just do a quick search for “Malice in the Palace.”
Still, it seems exceptionally egregious after sitting through months of games with empty arenas, for a couple of buffoons to display such boorish behavior.
Several players spoke out in support of Westbrook and Young including LeBron James who tweeted “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!”