On Friday, the NBA decided not to discipline Oklahoma City Thunder star Russell Westbrook for lightly shoving a fan in the immediate aftermath of their demoralizing loss to the Denver Nuggets, according to ESPN NBA reporter Royce Young. As Westbrook walked off the floor, a stray fan wandered onto the floor, obstructed his path and screamed in jubilation.
A frustrated and bemused Westbrook moved him aside and explained afterwards that he acted out of concern for his own well-being, per ESPN’s Royce Young. Westbrook defended his actions after the incident.
“You gotta be able to protect the players, man,” he said. “The fans are obviously there to enjoy the game, but they can’t come onto the floor. That’s totally unacceptable.
“They’ll look at it and figure out what’s the best way to deal with it, but to me, that’s just totally unacceptable.”
Countless incidents over the years have taught us the perils of mixing alcohol, adrenaline-filled athletes and emotional spectators, which has led to modern NBA arena security enforcing a strict boundary between the athletes and fans.
Famous imposter Barry Bremen, who snuck onto the court for warm-ups during the 1979 and 1981 All-Star Games, summed up it up perfectly when he explained why he was retired from conning his way onto the floor at sporting events.
“You’ve heard of the Taser gun? You’ve heard of 9/11? They don’t ask questions anymore.”
However, there are a few exceptions, depending on the context and harmlessness of the trespassers.
Interestingly enough, comedian Tony Roberts was simply reprimanded after a video went viral of him stretching on the court and even getting a shot up during the New Orleans Pelicans pregame warmups.
Meanwhile, the fan who Westbrook shoved was removed from the arena and banned from attending future games at Pepsi Center in Denver.
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