The hottest topic in sports right now — well, other than the Boston Celtics — is how NBA fans have been acting throughout the playoffs so far. Teams are just now inviting more and more fans into the arenas, but there have already been several occasions of spectators mistreating NBA players and potentially putting them in danger.
If anyone knows how difficult fans can be, though, it’s former Defensive Player of the Year Metta World Peace, also known as Ron Artest or Metta Sandiford-Artest. In fact, he recently had a strong reaction to how the fans have been acting lately.
NBA fans have been acting irresponsibly in the playoffs
In a typical year — before COVID-19 — it seemed like there were only a couple of fan-player altercations throughout the entire postseason. So far throughout the first round this year, though, there have already been several incidents.
Washington Wizards guard Russell Westbrook had popcorn dumped on him by a fan, which led to the Philadelphia 76ers banning the person indefinitely from all events at the Wells Fargo Center. Atlanta Hawks guard Trae Young, on the other hand, was spit on during a game against the New York Knicks, and that spectator also received a ban, but from events at Madison Square Garden.
This is in addition to at least three other incidents, as the Utah Jazz banned three fans for using vulgar and racist language toward Ja Morant’s family, while police arrested a Celtics fan for throwing a water bottle toward Kyrie Irving’s head. Lastly, another fan went onto the court during a Wizards-76ers game.
All of these incidents happening one after another is concerning, as players — or even the fans themselves — could eventually get hurt.
World Peace has since been one of many to make strong comments about the recent events.
Metta World Peace had a strong reaction to the recent events
World Peace, who has his own history with NBA fans, recently appeared on The Rich Eisen Show, and he suggested an interesting solution to the NBA’s recent issue with fans.
“The water bottle and the spitting, that’s kind of a little too much, and when you’re getting to that point, it probably should be mandatory that fans see some therapy before coming to a playoff game. … Maybe we need proof of therapy session now,” World Peace said on the June 1 episode.
World Peace then wanted to make it clear that the people acting irresponsibly are not actual fans.
“It’s not fans; it’s people, it’s certain people,” he said. “If you mention fans, fans is a positive thing. You’re not a fan if you’re doing these things. You’re just a person who is doing bad things. So, we need to stop the narrative of the fans. The fans right now are pumped; we’re in the playoffs. It’s two separate type of people. So, with that being said, I just feel like we gotta make sure we’re just aware and try to protect the players from a certain type of people. You don’t have to protect the players from the fans.”
Metta World Peace understands the challenges of dealing with NBA fans
Whether you call them fans or not, World Peace knows a thing or two about dealing with spectators at NBA games.
In 2004, World Peace, who played for the Indiana Pacers and was known as Ron Artest at the time, punched a fan in the Detroit Pistons crowd at The Palace of Auburn Hills after getting hit with a cup of beer. Per USA Today, the NBA then suspended World Peace for 86 games, and the incident became infamously known as the “Malice at the Palace.”
The former NBA All-Star told Eisen that he later talked things out with that particular fan.
“We grew a nice little relationship,” he said. “I reached out because I had an issue with him personally; I didn’t have an issue with nobody else. So, I reached out, and kind of addressed that issue, and that was it for the most part. We actually had good conversation. He told me why he did it; it was a bet. He told me the reason why, and that was that. He apologized, and we move on.”
No matter what happens in the playoffs moving forward, hopefully, nothing escalates to the level things did in Detroit, and hopefully, no one ends up getting hurt.