Fan banned over Westbrook popcorn dump: Sixers

Published May 28, 2021, 10:24 AM

by Agence-France-Presse

Russell Westbrook of the Washington Wizards looks on during a game against the Philadelphia 76ers during Round One Game Two of the Eastern Conference Playoffs on May 26, 2021 at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by David Dow / NBAE / Getty Images / Getty Images via AFP)

A Philadelphia 76ers fan who dumped popcorn on Russell Westbrook was banned indefinitely from the Wells Fargo Center and had his season ticket revoked, the NBA team said Thursday.

The unnamed fan triggered uproar on Wednesday after showering injured Washington ace Westbrook with popcorn as he left the court during game two of the Wizards’ Eastern Conference playoff series against the Sixers.

An angry Westbrook needed to be restrained from confronting the fan by security staff following the incident.

A Sixers statement on Thursday said the fan had been identified and barred from games.

“We have determined that the person involved will have his season ticket membership revoked, effectively immediately,” the team said.

“In addition, he will be banned from all events at Wells Fargo Center indefinitely. We apologize to Russell Westbrook and the Washington Wizards for being subjected to this type of unacceptable and disrespectful behavior. There is no place for it in our sport or arena.”

A furious Westbrook on Wednesday called on the NBA and venue managers to crack down on unruly fans, saying the problem was “getting out of hand.”

“The amount of disrespect, the amount of fans just doing whatever 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,” added Westbrook, who has been targeted repeatedly for abuse by fans in recent years.

The NBA said in a statement on Thursday the league would implement an “enhanced fan code of conduct” following the incident.

“The return of more NBA fans to our arenas has brought great excitement and energy to the start of the playoffs,” the league said.

“But it is critical that we all show respect for players, officials and our fellow fans. An enhanced fan code of conduct will be vigorously enforced in order to ensure a safe and respectful environment for all involved.”

The NBA promise of a clampdown came as the New York Knicks confirmed they had banned a fan who spat on Atlanta Hawks guard Trae Young on Wednesday during a playoff game at Madison Square Garden.

“We investigated the matter and determined that this patron, who is not a season ticket holder, did indeed spit on Trae Young, and for that reason, he is now banned from The Garden indefinitely,” the Knicks said in a statement.

“We apologize to Trae and the entire Atlanta Hawks organization for this fan’s behavior. This was completely unacceptable and will not be tolerated in our venue. 

“We have turned the information over to the appropriate authorities.”