The NBA has a public relations nightmare on its hands.
Players continue to get political and the majority of fans don’t want any part of it.
And an NBA player shockingly threatened fans after one incident.
Unruly fans are part of professional sports, but they can undoubtedly cross the line.
A fan at Madison Square Garden allegedly spit on Atlanta Hawks point guard Trae Young, which unsurprisingly elicited a strong reaction from players.
And Boston Celtics forward/center Tristan Thompson made people’s jaws drop when he said he would follow fans home if they ever spit on him.
Asked Thompson to elaborate & if the team/league needs to do more to stop this: “There are certain cities that you can expect some racial slurs around the third quarter once someone has enough beers & they know that they’re far enough from us where we can’t do nothing to them.” https://t.co/CbkSwXuN9x pic.twitter.com/tsv72MQFVU
— Jared Weiss (@JaredWeissNBA) May 28, 2021
Thompson’s words come at the worst possible time for NBA commissioner Adam Silver, who’s trying to boost league viewership.
The NBA suffered a massive ratings drop during last season’s Finals, and the league still hasn’t really recovered.
The league has made strides to rebuild its image after the disgraceful “Malice at the Palace” episode in 2004 when members of the Indiana Pacers went into the stands and fought with Detroit Pistons fans.
The game was called by the officials with less than a minute to play, and some Pacers players were doused with beer as they scurried off the court.
Beating up fans is a black eye for any sports league, and the NBA had done a good job of engaging with fans.
However, the league’s foray into politics is destroying a lot of the goodwill built up over the years.
Most fans do not want to be lectured on hot-button political issues.
The NBA even postponed the playoffs after alleged rapist Jacob Blake was shot by the police while resisting arrest and reaching for a knife.
Star players like LeBron James have added to the growing anti-police sentiment spreading in the country.
Tension seems to be on the rise between the players and the fans.
In addition to Thompson’s words, a Philadelphia 76ers fan was banned after dumping popcorn on Washington Wizards point guard Russell Westbrook, and Utah Jazz fans were banned after harassing Memphis Grizzlies players.
The NBA has enough problems on its hands.
Wrangling unruly fans is the last thing Commissioner Silver wanted to deal with.