The guard was leaving the court injured as he was showered in food from above
The Philadelphia 76ers revoked a fan’s season ticket with immediate effect and banned him from all events at the Wells Fargo Center indefinitely after he poured popcorn on Russell Westbrook in Wednesday’s NBA playoff game.
The Washington Wizards guard was limping to the locker room after suffering an ankle injury in the fourth quarter and was showered with popcorn by a fan seated above the tunnel.
Westbrook reacted furiously and had to be held back by Wizards staff and security guards.
ESPN reported a fan seated near the tunnel was escorted out shortly after the incident, which came with 10 minutes left in Game 2 in the first round of the playoffs. The 76ers won 120-95 to take a 2-0 lead in the series.
“We apologise to Russell Westbrook and the Washington Wizards for being subjected to this type of unacceptable and disrespectful behavior. There is no place for it in our sport or arena,” the 76ers said in a statement.
Westbrook called for more protection for the players, saying there were numerous instances where fans in the stands felt they were “untouchable”.
“I wouldn’t come up to me on the street and throw popcorn on my head because you know what happens,” Westbrook said.
“In these arenas, you got to start protecting the players. We’ll see what the NBA does.
“Obviously, I have learned to look the other way. But to a certain extent, you can’t just keep looking the other way. There has to be some penalties or something to put in place where fans just can’t come to the games and do and say as they please.”
The NBA urged fans to show respect for players and officials and said it will vigorously enforce an enhanced code of conduct to ensure a “safe and respectful environment for all involved”.
The Wells Fargo Center also released a statement saying the incident was “classless, unacceptable behavior” from the fan.