NBA fans are almost disturbingly close to the action, with each arena’s seats trickling all the way down to within a few feet of the field. There’s nothing but an imaginary barrier between players and fans, and it’s broken more often than you might think, as you’re about to see.
Here are some of the worst incidents between players and fans in recent times:
LeBron has one last laugh in feud with Pacers fans
With 2:29 of overtime left on an Indiana night, James pointed out some shit-talking Pacers fans and asked the umpires to escort them out of the arena.
“If obscene gestures and language come into play, (it) cannot be tolerated,” James told reporters later that night. “There’s a difference between cheering for your team and not wanting the other team to win and things I would never say to a fan and they wouldn’t say to me.”
Fan threatens Draymond Green’s life
Like LeBron, Draymond Green also had a fan kicked out.
In Draymond’s case, it was during a game in late December last year in Milwaukee.
“Some threatening things to my life,” Green told reporters when asked what was being said. “I was so close to actually go back and dive on him. I just went back and told the official. When I told the official he said ‘he needs to get out of here’. You have to get out of here.’
Celtics fan throws water bottle at Kyrie Irving
Kyrie Irving has been public enemy number one in Boston since he left the Celtics, and things went to the next level when he stomped the Celtics logo on center court. But a Boston fan crossed the line that night when he threw a water bottle at Kyrie.
“(It’s) just underlying racism and treating people like they’re in a human zoo,” Irving said after the incident.
“Throwing things at people, saying things. There is a point where it becomes too much. You can see that people here just feel very entitled. … As a black man who plays in the NBA and has to deal with a lot of these things, it’s pretty hard. You never know what’s going to happen.”
Russell Westbrook dumped popcorn on him after an injury
Russell Westbrook had to be restrained when a 76ers fan threw popcorn at him as he was helped off the field in 2021 with an injury.
fan pours popcorn over Westbrook as he is helped off the floor with an injury pic.twitter.com/tGcn4kqRqq
— Rob Perez (@WorldWideWob) May 27, 2021
The Sixers revoked the fan’s season tickets and apologized to the Wizards.
Westbrook commented on the incident, saying “This is getting out of hand, especially for me. The amount of disrespect, the amount of fans just doing what they want to do. It’s just out of pocket, man.
Known stalker walks into court in Denver
The Lakers and Nuggets saw Game 4 of their 2012 first-round playoff series take a bizarre turn when a fan ran onto the field during live action.
It was later revealed that the woman had a history of stalking players and screaming “Where’s Kenyon (Martin)?” as she ran onto the floor.
The answer was “LA”, with Martin leaving the Nuggets for China and then the Clippers the previous off-season.
The woman was quickly arrested and charged with trespassing.
Nuggets fan punches Russell Westbrook in the face
— Sports Center (@Sportcenter) February 2, 2018
Protestor tries to glue himself to court
During a play-in game between the Clippers and Timberwolves last season, an animal rights protester tried to glue himself to the floor under the basket.
But before she had a chance, security quickly attacked and foiled her plan.
Knicks fan spits at Trae Young
During the first round between the Knicks and the Hawks in the 2021 playoffs, a Knicks grease spat at Trae Young during an off-court play.
Everyone is talking about the Sixers fan dumping popcorn on Westbrook, but let’s not ignore the Knicks fan spitting on Trae Young pic.twitter.com/HWioRIs8Al
— Guru (@DrGuru_) May 27, 2021
Young embraced the villain role during that series, but this fan clearly took it way too far.
Trae later commented on the incident, calling it “disgusting”. The fan was banned from the arena indefinitely.
Fan knocks off Russell Westbrook from point blank range
To sum it up, this man spent an ungodly sum of money on high-end seats only to send himself off the field midway through the first quarter.
The man, who turned out to be a wealthy Philadelphia physician, later claimed Westbrook yelled “sit down f*cking fat boy.”
But the fan apologized to Russ in the aftermath, saying “My action in response was clearly inexcusable and I’m ashamed”.
The Derek Fisher Incident in Utah
After signing a four-year contract with the Jazz ahead of the 2006–07 season, Fisher asked to be released after just one season.
He told then-Jazz owner Larry H. Miller that he needed to be in a bigger city to get proper medical care for his daughter, who was diagnosed with eye cancer.
Miller agreed, and two and a half weeks later, Fisher signed with the upcoming powerhouse Lakers.
Returning to Salt Lake City with LA, a fan famously yelled at Fisher from behind the basket while covering his eye in an attempt to mock Fisher’s excuse for leaving the team.
The jury still seems to be out on whether Fisher’s reasoning was genuine.
But things sure got ugly fast.
James Harden brings a laser to the eyeball
James Harden is not happy with a fan using a laser pointer during his FTs. https://t.co/0HsAC98Bvl
— Michael Gallagher (@MikeSGallagher) January 5, 2016
When James Harden stepped on the foul line three years ago during a game in early January in Utah, he never could have predicted what would happen next.
As Harden prepared to fire, someone in the stands of the Vivint Smart Home Arena – which sometimes has a reputation for being an absolute zoo – shone a laser pointer straight into his eyes.
The stupid fan in question was later suspended for a year.
Rodney Hood smashes the fan’s phone
Rodney Hood knocked the cell phone right out of that man’s hands pic.twitter.com/ToR9pYeGqN
— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) January 11, 2018
Australian bookmaker Sportsbet put it best when their social media team compared this moment to being around that one friend who really gets it all.
Klay Thompson vs potty Bucks fan
When Klay Thompson tumbled to the baseline seats in Milwaukee last January, a Bucks fan unleashed a particularly NSFW tirade on him.
According to Thompson’s then-teammate David West, he yelled “f*ck you bitch. You mother*cker”.
The fan in question was removed from the arena.
The malice in the palace
You’ve already watched it a million times on YouTube…you know how this story goes.
Artist formerly known as Ron Artest gets involved with Ben Wallace, lays down on the scoring table, takes a drink into the air thrown by some idiotic fan, jumps into the crowd, hits the wrong guy and chaos ensues .
The NBA suspended Artest for the remainder of the season, including the playoffs. It was the longest suspension for an on-track incident in league history and cost him about $5 million.
The league suspended nine players for a total of 146 games and fined them a total of $11 million. I hope history never repeats itself.