Many people have been disgusted by the recent actions of fans who have potentially endangered NBA players during the playoffs. We have seen instances of a person tossing a water bottle toward a player’s head, and another of someone actually spitting on an athlete. This has led to many former and current stars feeling pretty frustrated about everything — including NBA legend Charles Barkley.
In fact, Barkley recently sent out a warning to fans who are potentially wanting to mistreat some of the players on the court.
NBA fans have recently mistreated players on several occasions
Now that fans have returned to sporting events following a long absence due to COVID-19, some have been acting pretty reckless.
The Philadelphia 76ers banned one fan from Wells Fargo Center events after the person dumped popcorn on Russell Westbrook. The New York Knicks also banned another for spitting on Trae Young during Game 2 of the Knicks’ series against the Atlanta Hawks.
A Boston Celtics fan then threw a water bottle toward Kyrie Irving’s head following Boston’s loss to the Brooklyn Nets, and another person went onto the court during Game 4 of the series between the 76ers and Wizards.
It’s hard to rationalize why so many fans have been acting this way. Maybe it’s because these games are their first sporting events since the coronavirus hit in 2020. Or perhaps they are just seeing the attention the other fans are receiving, so they want their own 15 minutes of fame. No matter the reason, though, their behavior is getting out of control.
Charles Barkley sent a warning to NBA fans who want to misbehave
Barkley and the TNT crew recently had an in-depth conversation about the way fans have been acting lately. He then ended up sending out a warning to any of the ones potentially wanting to follow in their peers’ inappropriate footsteps.
“One of these fans gonna run up on one of these players one night, and they’re going to get beat down,” he said on the May 31 episode of Inside the NBA. “These guys are big and strong. There’s going to be a fan who don’t like a particular player, and these dudes have the right, they have the right, to protect themselves. It’s just a matter of time.”
Barkley makes a good point. When encountered by a fan during a game, a player could potentially have no idea what’s going on in the moment. This could ultimately lead to someone getting hurt, as their first reaction may include them doing something to protect themselves.
It’s certainly a hot topic right now, meaning Barkley hasn’t been the only one to share his opinions.
Others around the NBA have shared their opinions
Wizards head coach Scott Brooks has seen two incidents affect his team during their current playoff series against the 76ers. He, however, questions what banning the fans actually means.
“Banning them and this and that, what does that mean?” Brooks said, according to The Athletic. “Is there facial recognition that (means) you can’t get a ticket on the secondary market and don’t shave for a week and wear a hat and still come in? There’s criminal charges, but they’ve gotta get something on their record, and they’ve gotta get exposed, and they have to pay money out of their pockets. Athletes in that same situation, if Russell had thrown popcorn on somebody, trust me, there would have been a major lawsuit that (claimed) a guy can’t see or broke his neck because the popcorn hit him. And all these athletes have to defend themselves and spend hundreds of thousands of dollars and get their names tarnished for these ‘fans.’”
Former NBA player Raja Bell also thinks legal action should be taken against some of these fans.
“Whatever legally can be explored, that s*** needs to be explored,” he said on the May 27 episode of the Real Ones podcast. “Athletes gotta feel safe out there. We are fair game in terms of yelling and screaming and actin’ a fool, but you cannot start putting our safety or our loved ones’ safety in jeopardy. At that point, you gotta prosecute; do what you can do.”
Hopefully, we see fewer incidents throughout the rest of the playoffs. If not, though, things may only get worse for both the fans and the players.