The wave of unruly fans continues.
There appears to have been a third occurrence of fan-related misconduct at an NBA playoffs game this week after three fans were ejected and later banned indefinitely after they were found to have hurled rude and racist remarks at the family of Memphis Grizzlies player Ja Morant.
The incidents took place Wednesday night at Salt Lake City’s Vivint Arena in Game 2 of the Western Conference first-round series between the Utah Jazz and Grizzlies. While the Jazz reported only one “verbal altercation,” Morant’s father Tee Morant told ESPN that there were three separate incidents with male Jazz fans.
“I know heckling,” Tee told the sports outlet. “We were doing that the whole game. But that’s different than heckling. That’s straight-up disrespectful. That was too far out of line. You don’t say nothing like that heckling. That’s beyond heckling.” Tee claimed that one of the fans ejected was sitting next to his young daughter when he made a sexually explicit remark directed at Tee’s wife, Jamie.
Meanwhile, another Jazz fan told him, “I’ll put a nickel in your back and watch you dance, boy.” Nearby witnesses who heard the comment quickly called over security, and both were removed. A third fan told the 21-year-old point guard to “Shut the f-ck up, b-tch.” They, too, were ejected from the game, which the Jazz won 141-129 to tie the best-of-seven series at 1-1.
The Jazz organization released a statement Thursday, May 27, stating, “The Utah Jazz have zero tolerance for offensive or disruptive behavior.” They added, “An incident occurred last night involving a verbal altercation during Game 2. Arena security staff intervened, and the investigation resulted in the removal and banning of three Jazz fans indefinitely. We apologize to all who were impacted by this unfortunate incident and condemned unacceptable fan behavior. The Utah Jazz are committed to ensuring a safe and respectful environment.”
Following the announcement, Ja took to his Twitter account, where he addressed the incident. In agreement with the disciplinary actions taken by the Jazz, Ja wrote, “As they should. My family should be able cheer for me & my teammates without getting inappropriate sh-t said to them 💯.”
Ja’s incident is the latest of many offensive behaviors by fans that took place Wednesday night alone. A fan in Philadelphia poured popcorn on Washington Wizards star Russell Westbrook‘s head as he limped back to the locker room following a twisted ankle during his game against the 76ers, and a person cheering for the host New York Knicks spat at the Atlanta Hawks’ Trae Young in Madison Square Garden. Both incidents resulted in indefinite bans for the offenders. Westbrook, LeBron James, and others have since called on the NBA to do “a better job” at protecting players from these kinds of treatment.
Part Jazz owner and former NBA star Dwyane Wade also addressed the situation on Twitter, writing, “If we turn our backs on this kind of behavior we’re all apart of the problem. This will not be tolerated! Apologies once again to Ja and his family 🙏🏾🖤.”
The league later responded to the outcry, warning that an enhanced fan code of conduct would be implemented. “The return of more NBA fans to our arenas has brought great excitement and energy to the start of the playoffs, but it is critical that we all show respect for players, officials and our fellow fans,” they wrote. “An enhanced fan code of conduct will be vigorously enforced in order to ensure a safe and respectful environment for all involved.”
The organization then led fans to their NBA Fan Code of Conduct.
Link to original Atlanta Black Star