There have been several player/fan altercations in the NBA recently. I, for one, am here for all of it. Talking trash and heckling a player from the opposing team is one thing but once you get into the realm of disrespect and racial aggression, you’ve gone too far. The fact that a lot of people are telling players to “deal with it” or “just ignore them” is a problem. I am never in favor of anyone having to endure harassment of any kind, under any circumstances. The fact that people think the answer to this is teaching players how to deal with it as opposed to telling fans not to be obnoxious assholes is………..disappointing.
First let me make it perfectly clear that I am aware that verbal abuse from fans is not a new concept. In fact, it has been tamed tremendously since the early days of the league. Bill Russell endured much worse than Russell Westbrook. But just because Bill chose to handle those idiots a different way doesn’t mean Russ has to do the same. I want people to really be aware of what they are suggesting when they say “be the bigger person”. Fans behavior should be conducive to the environment of a professional sports contest. Calling a player a bum, cool. Making jokes about appearance, fine. Calling someone a “nigger” or a “boy”, completely unacceptable. Purchasing a ticket to a basketball game does not give you free license to be an ignorant prick. Should you decide to be an ignorant prick, you deserve what reaction that behavior warrants. You can’t provoke a lion and get mad when the lion roars back at you. They aren’t even getting bitten and are playing the victim.
My main problem with all of this is that these fans believe there is some type of force field between themselves and the players that provides them unlimited protection. Believe me, they aren’t as safe as they think. They should play clips of “The Malice at the Palace” before every game as a reminder. Another thing, these people know perfectly well that they would be on their best behavior if they were face to face with any of the guys they are so aggressive towards from the stands. I know James Harden doesn’t look that big from Sect. 110 Row Z Seat 16 but these cowards would cross the street if they saw him in public. Easy to call someone “boy” from 26 rows up and several security guards holding him back when he tries to run up on you. By continuing to stress that athletes should not only expect this type of nonsense but also tell them that they are wrong to address it sets a dangerous precedent.