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5 Instances Where Unruly NBA Fans Crossed the Line: Examining Fan Conduct in the League
Kevin Durant vs fan

5 Instances Where Unruly NBA Fans Crossed the Line: Examining Fan Conduct in the League

Bad fans aren’t new. Especially not in the NBA. Many incidents have occurred of fans throwing items and calling players explicit names during games. The bad behavior has caused the league to come up with new measures to protect players, going as far as banning those fans who act unruly and disrespectful from their arenas indefinitely.

Sometimes, it’s not just the players who endure the blows. Grizzlies guard Ja Morant’s father, Tee Morant, told ESPN about three occasions he and his wife, Jamie Morant, were mistreated. According to Morant, one fan directed a sexually explicit comment towards Jamie. Another fan allegedly said to Tee, “I’ll put a nickel in your back and watch you dance, boy.” The third fan, who was ejected, reportedly told Jamie, “Shut the f— up, b—-,” as recounted by Tee Morant to ESPN.

Check out our list below of times fans acted poorly. Is the league doing enough to curb this behavior? While strides have been made with stricter enforcement and consequences, incidents like those experienced by the Morant family highlight the ongoing challenges. NBA arenas should be spaces where everyone can enjoy the game safely and respectfully, free from harassment or intimidation. It’s a collective responsibility to uphold the values of sportsmanship and decency, both on and off the court.

Malice at the Palace

Possibly the most infamous fan and player conflict was between fans and former Pacers player Ron Artest in 2004. What started as a duel between Pistons player Ben Wallace and Artest over a hard foul turned into an all-out brawl involving the two teams. As things seemed to calm down, a fan named John Green threw a drink, hitting Artest as he lay on the scorer’s table.

Artest immediately charged into the crowd and grabbed another fan, Michael Ryan, whom he mistakenly thought hit him with the drink. Several Pacer teammates followed, prompting more drinks and punches to be thrown, and the incident escalated into a large brawl that spread from the stands to the court and involved fans and players from both teams. The game was never completed.

Kevin Durant Gets Called The B-word

Kevin Durant recently addressed two fans last week during a game against the Dallas Mavericks. The Phoenix Suns player heard the two fans and confronted them, which was captured on video. But Durant seemed to be the bigger person and walked off, seeming without resolution. He also told security to allow the two Mavericks fans to stay and watch the game.

Fan Spits On Trae Young

Atlanta Hawks’s Trae Young endured probably the most disrespectful thing while playing a game against the New York Knicks during the 2021 playoffs. A fan spit on him. The fan was indefinitely banned from Madison Square Garden for the incident.

Young says he has no problems with fan chants but said, “For spitting and things like that, that’s uncalled for in any arena and any environment. So that’s disgusting, but we got to move forward and for me, I just focus on this team.”

Russell Westbrook gets hit with popcorn

During a playoff game against the Philadelphia 76ers, then-Washington Wizard point guard Russell Westbrook suffered an injury after rolling his ankle. While he was limping off the court to the locker room to get checked out, a fan poured popcorn on his head. Rightfully upset, Westbrook had to be held back from rushing into the stands.

“I’m all for the fans enjoying the game and having fun. It’s part of sports. I get it. But there are certain things that cross the line,” Westbrook said during a post-game interview Wednesday.

Boston Celtic fan throws water bottle at Kyrie Irving

A fan was banned for life from Boston’s TD Garden after he threw a water bottle at then-Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving. Irving was able to miss the hit, but the damage was done. The incident was yet another example of fans taking things too far.

“You’re seeing a lot of old ways come up,” Irving said. “It has been that way in history in terms of entertainment, performers, and sports for a long period of time and just underlying racism and just treating people like they’re in a human zoo. Throwing stuff at people, saying things. There is a certain point where it gets to be too much,” he said following the incident.

“You can see that people just feel very entitled out here,” he explained.

“They paid for their tickets – great, I’m grateful that they’re coming in to watch a great performance. But we’re not at the theater. We’re not throwing tomatoes and other random stuff at the people that are performing. It’s just too much.”

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Crystal Gross
Crystal joined BallerAlert in 2020 to renew her passion for writing. She is a Kentucky native who now lives in the heart of Atlanta. She enjoys reading, politics, traveling, and of course writing.

About Crystal Gross

Crystal joined BallerAlert in 2020 to renew her passion for writing. She is a Kentucky native who now lives in the heart of Atlanta. She enjoys reading, politics, traveling, and of course writing.

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