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"Fans" in the Stands

(Graphic via Andrew Yang)

The day is May 27th, 2021. The Washington Wizards are playing the Philadelphia 76ers on Philly’s home turf. Russell Westbrook leaves the game with an injury, only to be met with a shower of popcorn raining from the stands as he enters the tunnel.

On the same day over in Utah, three Jazz fans were banned indefinitely for spewing racist slurs and lewd comments towards Grizzlies guard Ja Morant’s father, Tee Morant.

Fast forward two days, we’ll head over to Madison Square Gardens, where Atlanta Hawks guard Trae Young was spat on by a Knicks fan who was sitting courtside while standing on the sideline.

Over in Boston, a 21-year-old Celtics fan was arrested and charged with assault and battery by means of a dangerous weapon for throwing a water bottle at Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving.

And at the time of this writing, a fan somehow managed to run onto the court during game 4 of the Sixers vs Wizards matchup, only to get bodied by a security guard shortly after.

Now with these five instances, there’s no pattern to be drawn. But if there’s anything to be noticed here, it’s that things weren’t like what they used to be. Fans aren’t acting like the way they used to in previous playoff matches.

Think back to a time when an NBA fan did something absolutely outrageous towards an NBA player. A thought that comes first to many maybe 2004’s “Malice in the Palace”, or when that one Sixers fan aggressively flipped off Russell Westbrook. But if you’re asking me, I couldn’t tell you the last time a player, their families, and their careers were disrespected like this. It’s one thing to chant some shade towards a player or a team (see “Trae is Balding” for reference), but to literally throw objects towards and onto players, and yell racial slurs/hate speech, that is a new low.

Let’s focus on Kyrie’s situation, which is arguably the most controversial of them all. With every story, there are two sides. In this case, there are the people defending the fan’s actions, and people with common sense.

Sure, Kyrie stomped on the Celtics logo, and that’s definitely something that fans shouldn’t take lightly, as I’m sure that any fan would take offence to a player (especially a former player) stomping on their team logo, or disrespecting it in any way. Should Kyrie be fined for unsportsmanlike behaviour? Potentially. Should Kyrie get objects thrown at him for doing so? Absolutely not. Kyrie’s reasons for stomping on the logo? That’s a story for another day.

To add insult to injury, some fans have gone as far as saying Kyrie “overreacted”, after hearing the Brooklyn guard called the arena a “human zoo”.

What these fans need to realize is that being able to go to these games, be in these arenas, and watch the teams play in front of you, in person, is a privilege that not many people get to experience, especially in this day and age. The audacity and level of entitlement that these fans hold is extremely frustrating to think about. And that takes us to the most upsetting incident from the past week that unfolded in New York.

Trae Young, standing on the sideline, already a victim of New York’s hecklers and trash talkers. The “F*** Trae Young” and “Trae is balding” chants, he’s heard it all. But it was all fun and games until a fan sitting courtside, decided to spit on Trae Young. You heard me right. A grown man, who bought courtside tickets to an NBA game, during a global pandemic, thought that it would be a good idea to spit on a professional athlete. I talked about entitlement, but this is just throwing human morals out the window.

Firstly, I’m surprised that 50 Cent didn’t get up and teach this guy a lesson. Not only did Trae Young get spit on (which in itself, is already a major problem), but the woman who was sitting right behind Trae could’ve been caught in the crossfire as well. We just went through one of the worst pandemics in recent history, and you’re telling me that you came to this game without any sense of hygiene, without any idea of how to be sanitary, and let alone being respectful?

The moral of the story: if you can’t hold yourself to a high enough standard, where you think throwing things at players or even spitting on them is all a good idea, you shouldn’t be able to go to games. You’ve not only spoiled your reputation and your image but the reputation of the respective fanbase that you are a part of, as well as all NBA fans as a whole. Because when a couple of entitled “fans” act this way, it gives a bad rep for the entire NBA fanbase. It’s the sad truth. Let it be in the forms of bans, fines, and charges, the league needs to do whatever it takes to make sure that these clowns don’t represent us as NBA fans.

To end this off, I’d like to quote Kevin Durant, as this quote perfectly sums up my opinion on the events that unfolded this past week.

“Grow the f**k up and enjoy the game. It’s bigger than you.”


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