National Sports

Fan banned over Westbrook popcorn dump: Sixers

(AFP)

A Philadelphia 76ers fan who dumped popcorn on Russell Westbrook was banned  indefinitely from the Wells Fargo Center and had his season ticket revoked, the NBA team said Thursday.

The unnamed fan triggered uproar on Wednesday after showering injured Washington ace Westbrook with popcorn as he left the court during game two of the Wizards’ Eastern Conference playoff series against the Sixers.

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An angry Westbrook needed to be restrained from confronting the fan by security staff following the incident.

A Sixers statement on Thursday said the fan had been identified and barred from games.

“We have determined that the person involved will have his season ticket membership revoked, effectively immediately,” the team said.

“In addition, he will be banned from all events at Wells Fargo Center indefinitely. We apologize 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.”

A furious Westbrook on Wednesday called on the NBA and venue managers to crack down on unruly fans, saying the problem was “getting out of hand.”

“The amount of disrespect, the amount of fans just doing whatever they want to do — it’s just out of pocket,” Westbrook said.

“There are certain things that cross the line. Any other setting … a guy were to come up on the street and pour popcorn on my head, you know what happens.

“In these arenas, you got to start protecting the players. We’ll see what the NBA does.”

The NBA said in a statement on Thursday the league would implement an “enhanced fan code of conduct” following the incident.

“The return of more NBA fans to our arenas has brought great excitement and energy to the start of the playoffs,” the league said.

“But it is critical that we all show respect for players, officials and our fellow fans. An enhanced fan code of conduct will be vigorously enforced in order to ensure a safe and respectful environment for all involved.”

Westbrook has repeatedly been targeted for abuse by fans in recent years.

In 2019, Westbrook accused a Utah Jazz fan of making a “racial” taunt against him when he was playing for the Oklahoma City Thunder. The fan was subsequently banned for life by the team.

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