NBA: 2 fans banned for spitting, pouring popcorn on players

Field Level Media/Reuters

Posted at May 28 2021 04:15 AM

Wizards guard Russell Westbrook argues a call in Game 2 against Philadelphia in the first round of the 2021 NBA Playoffs on May 26, 2021. Bill Streicher, USA Today Sports/Reuters

Two fans have been banned indefinitely from NBA arenas for separate incidents during Wednesday's playoff games after inappropriate behavior towards Atlanta Hawks' Trae Young and Washington Wizards' Russell Westbrook.

The New York Knicks said on Thursday that a fan who had spit on Young in the fourth quarter has been banned from Madison Square Garden indefinitely.

"This was completely unacceptable and will not be tolerated in our venue. We have turned the information over to the appropriate authorities," the Knicks said in a statement while apologizing to Young and the Hawks.

Meanwhile, the Philadelphia 76ers revoked a fan's season ticket with immediate effect and banned him from all events at the Wells Fargo Center indefinitely after he poured popcorn on Westbrook.

The Wizards guard was limping to the locker room with an ankle injury in the fourth quarter and was showered with popcorn by a fan seated above the tunnel.

The incident occurred with 10 minutes left in the game and a furious Westbrook had to be held back by staff and security guards.

"We apologize to Russell Westbrook and the Washington Wizards for being subjected to this type of unacceptable and disrespectful behavior. There is no place for it in our sport or arena," the 76ers said.

Westbrook called for more protection for the players, saying there were numerous instances where fans in the stands felt they were "untouchable".

"I wouldn't come up to me on the street and throw popcorn on my head because you know what happens," Westbrook said.

"Obviously, I have learned to look the other way. But to a certain extent, you can't just keep looking the other way. There has to be some penalties or something to put in place where fans just can't come to the games and do and say as they please."

The NBA urged fans to show respect for players and officials and said it will vigorously enforce an enhanced code of conduct to ensure a "safe and respectful environment for all involved". (Reporting by Manasi Pathak in Bengaluru and Hritika Sharma in Hyderabad; Editing by Toby Davis/Ed Osmond/Ken Ferris )

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