The NBA Playoffs are in full swing, and after the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic kept fans out of games for over a year, they are now back in arenas cheering on their favorite teams. Seeing this has been great for the sport, so much so that the LeBron James, Anthony Davis and the Los Angeles Lakers credited fans for helping them get a Game 3 win over the Phoenix Suns.
Unfortunately, it hasn’t been all positives. Despite the amazing moments coming from Madison Square Garden, the Staples Center and other famous arenas, we’ve also seen the return of fans taking things too far. A fan at Wells Fargo Arena in Philadelphia threw popcorn at Russell Westbrook, then there was a fan who spat on Trae Young, both of whom have been banned indefinitely from those respective arenas.
There have also been ongoing stories of racist remarks being shouted by fans at the Boston Celtics’ TD Garden and the Utah Jazz’s Vivint Arena. James — who has seen all types of horrible behavior from fans — defended the NBA, saying that the league has done the right thing in all of these instances. “Yes, absolutely,” James said after taking a 2-1 first-round series lead.
“There’s been enough done to protect the players but we got to continue to do that and the NBA did a great job and also the respective teams, Philly, New York and also seeing Utah as well, protecting out players by banning the individuals that had these instances. That’s not a part of cheering for your teams or heckling players or being as loud as you can. All the heckling, that’s great, we don’t mind that. We’re gonna hear the boos, we understand that. Maybe there will be a couple curse words here and there, and we understand that as well. Actually, I love that, I’m absolutely OK with that.
“But there is a line and I think we’re all grown and we all know what the line is when you cross it. So to see Russ get popcorn thrown on him leaving the game, to see Trae Young get spit on and to hear about Ja’s family and the crowd in Utah, those are things that’s not gonna represent our league, represent our players or represent these respective teams and those teams handled it with the upmost professionalism. So kudos to the league, kudos to the Knicks, Jazz and Philly and we want to continue to more forward.”
Over the past few years, swift action has been taken against fans who cross the line that James talks about. It’s nearly impossible for the NBA to predict when behavior like this is going to happen, so this is legitimately the best they can do.
Hopefully, the bans for those who threw popcorn, spit or directed racist remarks at players will discourage anyone from repeating those behaviors. As James said, it goes beyond just cheering for your team and heckling the opponent if those types of actions are happening.
Lakers announce extension of Staples Center lease
The Lakers recently announced that they have no plans to leave Staples Center any time soon. In addition to renewing their lease through the 2040-41 NBA season, they have also committed to doing some renovations around the now-22-year-old building.
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