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The NBA still hasn’t properly addressed fan behavior — don’t be mad when players take matters into their own hands

Time after time this keeps happening, and the league and these franchises do nothing but ban the fans or release meaningless statements after the damage has already been done.

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Here’s the Mavericks’ statement:

“The Dallas Mavericks are aware of an incident between a fan and the family of Chris Paul. It was unacceptable behavior and will not be tolerated. The Mavericks, along with American Airlines Center, swiftly removed the fan from today’s game.” the team wrote.

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This isn’t good enough.

When the original Malice at the Palace took place in 2004, do you know who started it all?

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The fans.

Why do the Utah Jazz have a horrible reputation when it comes to how opposing players — like Russell Westbrook, among others — are treated in their arena?

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The fans.

And when players like Kyrie Irving, Trae Young, Immanuel Quickley, and Westbrook got spat on, had popcorn dumped on them, or had bottles thrown their way, who was at fault?

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The fans.

This is the same league in which animal protestors were able to disrupt three of the Minnesota Timberwolves games a few weeks ago by trying to glue their hands to the court, chaining themselves to the basket stanchion, and attempting to run on the court. This stuff keeps happening at NBA games because the NBA allows it. If the league wanted to put a stop to this, it would. Where are the fines and penalties for the fans that cross the line? Where are the arrests? How come they don’t have their names and background information put on blast like when athletes do something wrong?

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Every time this happens, it feels like the solution is an easy one, yet it’s never the one that’s chosen. Beyond the need for more security at games to prevent these situations from taking place and escalating, I’m proposing that whenever a player, or his family, is harassed by fans, the home team should be given a technical foul that comes with two free throws and the loss of possession. I bet if Mavericks fans would have had to watch their team get a tech, followed by the Suns getting the ball after watching their best free-throw shooter put 2 points on the scoreboard, the people in the arena would start policing themselves.

To prove that the league and teams have allowed this behavior to go on for too long, I bet you didn’t realize we were in this same position almost exactly 13 years ago in Dallas when the Mavericks were playing the Denver Nuggets. In May of 2009, in the same exact round of the playoffs, Mavericks owner Mark Cuban told Nuggets’ Kenyon Martin’s mom that her son was a thug at the end of Game 3. And in Game 4, Carmelo Anthony’s then-girlfriend and current ex-wife La La Anthony and Martin’s ex-girlfriend, rap star Trina, had ice thrown at them along with being on the receiving end of racial slurs.

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According to an old site called Momlogic, this is what Anthony said about how she was treated in the stands in Dallas.

“They began yelling ‘F*** the Nuggets!’ right in front of my son.” Then she says they started calling the Nuggets players “n*****s.” She was shocked. “I’ve been at a ton of games — but I have NEVER heard fans say things like that.” Then, looking directly at her while taunting Anthony on the court, Lala says the fans called her son a “bastard.”

“I know it was directed at me. Yes, my son’s dad and I are not married — but we are engaged!” Lala turned to the fans and said, “This is just a GAME! Do you even know these players?!” She then asked her babysitter to take Kiyan out of the arena. The fans, who by this time, claims Lala, were completely intoxicated, became even “more aggressive,” yelling “F*** the Nuggets!” and insulting their families — namely, Lala says, her and Carmelo. Then they physically pushed her. Pushed to the edge, she turned around and yelled back.

TV cameras captured security guards approaching her. “They said they had seen the whole thing and told me I had done nothing wrong. I was NOT ejected, they just escorted me to a suite [for safety]. I was mad!”

After all that, nothing happened as nobody was punished. “Matter is closed,” a league spokesman Tim Frank reportedly told The Associated Press before Game 5 began in Denver. Five years after Malice at the Palace, the league had another ugly situation with fans and chose to do nothing. And yet, here we are, 13 years after what happened in Dallas and in the middle of the second year in a row in which fan behavior has become a subplot of the postseason and the league isn’t doing anything besides sending out stern press releases.

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Somebody is going to get knocked unconscious by one of these players for saying the wrong thing to them or harassing their families, and I’m going to love it. And when that day does happen, it’ll send a message that fans won’t be able to ignore: “Sit down and shut up!”

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