The New York Knicks and Philadelphia 76ers each banned a fan and issued an apology on Thursday for actions directed at opposing players during playoff games, and the NBA said the rules surrounding fan behavior went further “strictly enforced.” ” Will be done.
The Knicks said they banned a fan from Madison Square Garden for spitting on Atlanta guard Trey Young, and 76 banned a fan throwing popcorn at Washington guard Russell Westbrook. Both incidents happened on Wednesday night.
“We’re just living in a society where people are not respected,” Hawks coach Nate McMillan said on Thursday. “It should not be allowed, or should not be, in any way a sporting event or indeed any event. … I think New York did what it should have done in that situation. This is unnecessary. “
The 76ers even outranked the Knicks, as the fan involved in the Westbrook incident was a season ticket holder. Those tickets have been canceled, and they have also been banned from all events in their area.
Neither the Knicks nor the 76ers released the names of fans who joined. The Knicks said they have sent information to the authorities.
“We investigated the case and determined that this patron, who is not a season ticket holder, had actually spit on Trae Young, and for this reason, he is now banned from the Garden indefinitely,” Nix he said. “We apologize to Trai and the entire Atlanta Hawks organization for the behavior of this fan.”
In the first two games of the series, Young was the subject of unholy chants from some fans in that area; The Hawks’ guard taunted him back less than a second after his shot to give Atlanta a Game 1 win. Even New York Mayor Bill Di Blasio weighed in on Young’s idea to try to lure the two into a news conference this week and on his office’s Twitter page.
“There is obviously a line,” Brooklyn forward Blake Griffin said Thursday. “I think what happened with Ras is clearly far behind that line.”
Westbrook was leaving a Wizards game in Philadelphia with an ankle injury when someone sitting on top of a tunnel leading to the floor threw popcorn.
“We apologize to Russell Westbrook and the Washington Wizards for this type of unacceptable and abusive behavior,” the 76ers said in a statement announcing the ban. “There is no place for it in our sport or field.”
The NBA said on Thursday that its rules on fan behavior would be “strictly enforced to ensure a safe and respectful environment for all involved.”
“The return of more NBA fans to our arenas has brought a lot of excitement and energy to the start of the playoffs, but it is important that we show respect for all players, officials and our fellow fans,” the NBA said on Thursday.
NBA buildings are welcoming their largest crowd of the season to the playoffs, following a regular season where attendance was severely limited due to policies designed to keep players and others safe during the pandemic.
It hasn’t been without problems, and players are again fueling concerns about the behavior.
“I’m sick and tired of it, honestly,” Westbrook said.
Brooklyn guard Kyrie Irving – in advance of Game 3 of the Nets’ series in Boston – said he expected the scene on Friday night to be “strictly basketball, with no militancy or no racism going on, subtle racism, People are screaming (disrespectfully) from the crowd. “
Brooklyn coach Steve Nash said, “We go into a hostile environment and we welcome it, we enjoy it, we want vitriol – as long as it doesn’t exceed the limit.” “We want to face some adversity. That noise and that energy coming from the opposing fans is something that can inspire your team, a challenge to help you lock in and focus more.”
Westbrook has previously been part of high-profile incidents involving fans, including one in Utah accused of directing a racial slur at a fan. Westbrook was fined $25,000 for his reactions to that incident, with a Utah guard Donovan Mitchell also coming to his rescue.
“These arenas, they have to start protecting the players. We’ll see what the NBA does,” Westbrook said Wednesday night. “I’ve been in a lot of events where the fans, everything they say, and results for me. Too much harm to those in the stands because they think they are untouchables.”
After the Westbrook incident in Utah two years ago, the league changed and tightened its code of conduct for fans, including keeping players and those closest to the court on alert that anything over the line would be evicted and Possibly more.
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