NBA Star Wants Changes After a Popcorn Dumping

Russell Westbrook says the league needs to better protect players
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted May 27, 2021 11:43 AM CDT

Russell Westbrook is fed up. A fan dumped popcorn on the Washington Wizards star as he was limping off the court Wednesday night after injuring his ankle in Philadelphia, reports ESPN. As video of the incident shows, Westbrook had to be restrained from going after the man in the Wells Fargo Center, and Westbrook didn't hold back when talking to reporters after the game. "To be completely honest, this s--- is getting out of hand, especially for me," he said. "The amount of disrespect, the amount of fans just doing whatever the f--- they want to do." He called on the league to better protect players, per CBS Philadelphia. "There are certain things that cross the line," he said. "Any other setting ... a guy were to come on the street and pour popcorn on my head, you know what happens."

  • The fan, who hasn't been identified publicly, was ejected. He's said to have been a season-ticket holder who's now lost those tickets, and he's also been banned from all events at the Wells Fargo Center. "This was classless, unacceptable behavior," says Valerie Camillo, president of business operations for the center.
  • The sport's biggest star, LeBron James, backed Westbrook's response. "By the way WE AS THE PLAYERS wanna see who threw that popcorn on Russ while he was leaving the game tonight with a injury!!," he tweeted. "There's cameras all over arenas so there’s no excuse! Cause if the (shoe) was on the other (foot,)" he wrote, adding the hashtag ProtectOurPlayers.
  • Philly fans have a reputation for not-so-polite behavior, and a Philadelphia Inquirer columnist isn't sympathetic to those in the city saying the incident is being overblown. "Just stop," he writes. "The national media didn't throw popcorn at Westbrook. Some ding-dong in a Sixers jersey did. He is the one who has made the fan base look bad. He is responsible for the narrative."
  • At Deadspin, Donovan Dooley says if the league doesn't act, a much uglier incident is destined to happen. "There needs to be stricter policing of fans," he writes. "Booing and smack talking about the game should 100% be allowed, but when comments and actions get racial or inappropriate, that's when things get over the line. And, of course, dumping anything on a player is way out of line." The league must communicate this to arenas, he adds.
(More Russell Westbrook stories.)

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