PHILADELPHIA (NewsNation Now) — Incidents at two separate games have created controversy in how fans are treating players in their stadiums as enthusiasts make their return to in-person game attendance.
Things got heated in Philadelphia when Wizards point guard Russell Westbrook started arguing with a fan who poured popcorn on his head.
Alcohol fueled or not, ESPN analyst Brooke Weisbrod argues there is no excuse for the fan’s behavior.
“What makes these players any less of human beings that you feel that you can do that in the heat of the moment in just because you hate the guy? I mean, cool. Be an anti-fan, but cheer for your team, you don’t need to be a jerk to these players,” said Weisbrod.
Westbrook was being escorted off the floor after suffering an ankle injury during game one between the Wizards and 76ers.
In a post-game interview, Westbrook said, “I wouldn’t come up to me on the street and throw popcorn on my head, because you know what happens…In these arenas you gotta start protecting the players. We’ll see what the NBA does.”
The Philadelphia 76ers issued a statement Thursday saying they’ve revoked that fan’s season ticket membership and are banning him from the Wells Fargo Center.
Players are asking for more protection, with LeBron James demanding on Twitter to see the video of the person who poured the popcorn and calling for action towards fans who disrespect players.
Westbrook isn’t the first player to have a fan attack him. In New York, a Knicks fan spit on Atlanta Hawks player Trae Young Wednesday night.
“Because they’re multimillionaires, they deserve to be degraded? I don’t think so. They don’t deserve any of this,” said Weisbrod. “And I think LeBron is right. We do need to see the pictures of these guys. You want to be a big man and throw popcorn and spit, and you want to make yourself viral. Cool. Let’s push you on the internet, and let’s see how tough you really are.”
The Knicks issued a statement saying they’ve investigated the matter, and while that fan isn’t a season ticket holder, they are banning him from Madison Square Garden.
Both incidents have the NBA reminding fans of their code of conduct policy which includes players and fans respecting each other.