Unruly fan behavior at NBA games in recent weeks has dominated what has otherwise been an exciting time for the sport, with many arenas finally back to being packed with supporters for the playoffs. One of the NBA’s most outspoken players is joining the conversation and has some strong takes on what needs to be done to address the issue.
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Golden State Warriors three-time All-Star Draymond Green joined Shaquille O’Neal’s The Big Podcast recently, and wasn’t shy in expressing his frustrations with the NBA’s lack of action in holding fans accountable for their behavior.
“The NBA has taken it so far left to where a guys says ‘f*** you,’ and you say ‘f*** you’ back, you’ll get fined,” Green said. “It’s like, where is the protection for the players?”
Green Pointed to Events With Trae Young, Kyrie Irving as Prime Examples
The NBA hasn’t even reached the Conference Finals yet and there have already been at least four well-documented occasions of hometown fans taking things too far against opposing players. One of the most vile examples came when a fan at Madison Square Garden with near courtside seats appeared to spit in the direction of Atlanta Hawks star guard Trae Young.
Other altercations have included a Boston Celtics fan hurling a water bottle at Kyrie Irving, a Philadelphia 76ers supporter pouring popcorn on Russell Westbrook, and group of Utah Jazz fans heckling Ja Morant’s family.
“Now when you see all these instances where there’s actual spit, or there’s a water bottle thrown this close to Kyrie’s face, where there’s popcorn poured on, then it’s like, ‘oh man, maybe we do need to protect the players.’ No, you should have been protecting the players,” Green said on the podcast.
The 2017 Defensive Player of the Year added that he believes the levels of punishment dished out to a player vs. a fan following an altercation needs to be balanced out.
“When you take it so far left to where a fan is like, ‘if I can come to the game and I can get Shaq or I can get Draymond or Steph Curry or whoever to get mad at me and to say something back, he loses money. Hahaha,'” Green said. “What’s the worst thing that may happen to this fan if I get into a screaming match with a fan, that he gets removed from his seat? The protection of the players went missing, and now they’re just taking it to another level.”
Green Says Fans Get Famous Following Incidents
During Green’s most passionate plea to higher-ups in the Association, he didn’t mince words.
“Not only is there no protection of players, but then you give all these guys face time,” he said. “They’re on TNT, the same channel that we’re all on every day, they’re on ESPN, they’re getting their five, 10, 15 seconds of fame. The only punishment is that they cannot come back to the game. Who f****** cares!?
“What it’s going to take, is somebody getting their ass kicked, and then they’ll respond.”
Since entering the league more than eight years ago, Green has always had a reputation for being among the most boisterous figures in the game. If commissioner Adam Silver and other NBA representatives don’t take further action in addressing incidents involving fans, don’t expect number 23 to stay quiet, even in his team’s offseason.