It was a rough night for Russell Westbrook in Philadelphia on Wednesday. The Wizards guard left the blowout loss in the fourth quarter after injuring his right ankle, then had popcorn dumped on him by fan as he limped toward the locker room. Addressing the incident after the game, Westbrook called on the NBA to better protect its players with fans now permitted back in arenas, as Brian Windhorst of ESPN writes.
“To be completely honest, this s–t is getting out of hand, especially for me. The amount of disrespect, the amount of fans just doing whatever the f–k they want to do — it’s just out of pocket,” Westbrook said. “There are certain things that cross the line. Any other setting … a guy were to come up on the street and pour popcorn on my head, you know what happens. … In these arenas, you got to start protecting the players. We’ll see what the NBA does.”
The Sixers announced today in a press release that the fan who poured popcorn on Westbrook has had his season ticket membership revoked and will be banned indefinitely from attending events at Wells Fargo Center. While that’s a good first step, it’ll be interesting to see if the league takes any further action.
LeBron James (via Twitter) echoed Westbrook’s call for the NBA to protect its players, and the incident in Philadelphia isn’t the only one involving fans this week. A Knick fan appeared to spit on Hawks guard Trae Young on Wednesday (link via Bleacher Report), and Jason Quick of The Athletic notes (via Twitter) that multiple Trail Blazers players took issue with some Nuggets fans as the team was leaving the court in Game 2.
Here’s more from around the Southeast:
- Westbrook’s impressive play in the second half of the season was crucial in propelling the Wizards into the playoffs, but the team will need more from him in this series in order to have a chance at upsetting Philadelphia, writes Candace Buckner of The Washington Post. First and foremost, the Wizards will need Westbrook healthy — his status remain up in the air after Wednesday’s ankle injury.
- Hawks head coach Nate McMillan found his rotation decisions under the spotlight following Wednesday’s loss, but he said he was happy with his game plan, per Chris Kirschner of The Athletic. “Our starters played 35-plus minutes. That’s a lot of minutes for those guys,” McMillan said. “Trae plays 35. Bogi (Bogdan Bogdanovic) plays 35. Clint (Capela) is at 36. That’s a lot of minutes for starters. … I thought we got a little gassed in that first half. I think we have to give those guys a little breather. They’re not going to be able to play 40-48 minutes.”
- Heat president of basketball operations Pat Riley was aware that his club probably needed more firepower to have a chance to return to the NBA Finals this year, says Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun Sentinel. However, Riley was unable to land Kyle Lowry at the deadline and his acquisition of Victor Oladipo didn’t work out, which could contribute to an early postseason exit for the defending Eastern champs.
- With the Heat trailing the Bucks 2-0, Anthony Chiang and Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald explore whether a frontcourt pairing of Bam Adebayo and second-half addition Dewayne Dedmon might be a viable solution to counter Milwaukee’s size.