The fan that dumped popcorn on Washington Wizards guard Russell Westbrook at the end of Wednesday’s playoff game against the Philadelphia 76ers “will be banned from all events at Wells Fargo Center indefinitely,” the Sixers announced in a statement on Thursday morning.
The Sixers added that the fan “will have his season ticket membership revoked.”
“We apologize to Russell Westbrook and the Washington Wizards for being subjected to this type of unacceptable and disrespectful behavior,” the Sixers’ statement read. “There is no place for it in our sport or arena.”
Later on Thursday, the NBA released a statement that included a link to the league’s fan code of conduct.
“The return of more NBA fans to our arenas has brought great excitement and energy to the start of the playoffs, but it is critical that we all show respect for players, officials and our fellow fans,” the league said in a statement. ” An enhanced fan code of conduct will be vigorously enforced in order to ensure a safe and respectful environment for all involved.”
After injuring his right ankle, Westbrook walked off the court in the fourth quarter of Wednesday’s eventual Game 2 loss to Philadelphia and headed toward the entrance tunnel. Then, a fan dumped popcorn from the stands above. Westbrook became irate and exited the entrance tunnel in hopes to identify and confront the fan. Wizards and arena security restrained Westbrook, but he pointed at the fan. Numerous other fans nearby did so as well.
Four years ago, a courtside fan in Philadelphia was ejected after flipping off Westbrook. Two years ago, the Utah Jazz issued a lifetime ban to a fan that had a verbal altercation with Westbrook while he was on the bench.
“This (expletive) is getting out of hand, especially for me,” Westbrook told reporters afterwards. “The amount of disrespect, the amount of fans just doing whatever the (expletive) they want to do, it’s just out of pocket. I’m all for the fans enjoying the game and having fun. It’s part of sports, I get it, but there are certain things that cross the line and in any other setting, I know for a fact that a guy wouldn’t come up to me on the street and pour popcorn on my head, because you know what would happen. … In these arenas, you gotta start protecting the players. We’ll see what the NBA does.”