Sadly, it has become a recurring trend for fans to heckle and shout horrible things to players on the court. This usually leads to players either clapping back at them or talking to officials and demanding they get removed from the game. Regardless of the outcome, it is becoming clear that the NBA has a toxicity problem during games. Why are fans like this though?
Why are NBA Fans so toxic? There isn’t a specific reason as to why certain fans say some of the things that they do. One reason could be that these fans think that they are better than the rest of the people around them, and say whatever they please because they pay for the seats at the stadium. There are also the fans that shout horrible and racist things just to get the attention of a player that they like watching, which is also awful in its own right.
Unfortunately, this type of behavior can’t be fully stopped by the league. There are just too many fans in the stadium that are coming in and out, all yelling things at the same time. But what have been some horrible things that these fans have said? Why are they considered toxic?
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Recent Toxic Incidents
When the NBA first started to allow fans back into the stadiums after the whole bubble experience, the majority of players were happy. However, some fans took their excitement a little too far and lashed out on players. For example, Russell Westbrook has gotten hurt in the middle of a game and limped his way into the locker room to get checked on. As he went into the tunnel, a fan of the opposing team decided that he wanted to dump popcorn on Westbrook’s head. As you can probably expect, Russ had to be held back from launching himself into the stands, made evident in the interview after the game.
Another incident occurred the same week, when a cluster of fans of the opposing team chose to harass and heckle the parents of Ja Morant. Not only did they ruin the game for the parents who were just trying to watch their son play basketball, but they also showed horrible class for the city and franchise. Then of course we have the biggest story of them all, when a New York Knicks fan chose to literally spat on Trae Young during a playoff game when he was standing on the sidelines, trying to inbound a pass. All of these incidents went viral and really shined a spotlight on fans behavior during games.
What League Plans to Do to Fix This Toxicity
A large group of NBA players recently decided to get together and talk with league officials in order to find some type of solution for this awful fan behavior that has been spreading in recent years. They added a no tolerance policy to all games that will be played in the future. This means that any sexist, anti-LGBTQ, racist or denigrating comments will get you instantly ejected from the contest and possibly future games as well. They have stretched it a little further as well and said that all non-basketball related comments will get you ejected. Even if it is something as minor as asking a player about his family or their pets. The league has a goal in mind to completely eradicate this behavior and for right now it seems like they are on the track to get that accomplished.
What Players Have Spoken Out Recently Over Fan Instances?
We have seen a number of high-profile NBA players speak out to the press and to the league directly over the matter. Russell Westbrook happens to be a player that is harassed the most during games and for no specific reason. He has had a number of incidents in which he was called racial slurs and physically attacked with popcorn as we mentioned earlier. Kyrie Irving is another player who had an issue with horrible behavior from fans last season when he got a water bottle thrown at his head while walking into the tunnel after a loss.
Kyrie took to the media as well and even had to get restrained while trying to run up the stands and confront the fan that threw it. James Harden spoke out about it as well after a couple wished death upon his son, and recently Damian Lillard had an issue over fan behavior. Lillard mentioned that fan behavior is starting to get out of hand but that it is also impossible to control and keep track of. However, he said he hopes that they make the consequences for these actions harsher and that fans deserve to be banned forever instantly.
Could There Be Good Trash Talking?
Just because there are some horrible people out there in the stands, doesn’t mean that trash talking and communicating with fans should be taken away entirely. Fans and players alike love trash talk and they believe that it is simply part of the game. If these fans are able to keep it about the game in front of them and focus the topic strictly on basketball, they can talk to their favorite players and stay in the stadium the entire time.
For example, Trae Young became the villain of New York City after beating the Knicks in the playoffs last year. He was heckled and mocked the entire series but he didn’t think anything as disrespectful outside of getting spit in a game. Instead, he rallied his team behind the heckling and played better because of it. He even gave the stadium a bow after he sank a dagger that would eventually result in the Knicks losing that series. Don’t get confused, fans can still trash talk and have fun with players. Not all fans are toxic either. There has just been an increasing number of these fans at NBA games and terrible non-basketball related comments best unspoken in the NBA.