The dominant storyline of the first round of these NBA playoffs has not been about the health of LeBron James, the Clippers potentially finally figuring themselves out, or the three-headed race atop the East between the Sixers, Nets, and Bucks.
It has been how fans have treated players as arenas start to return to full capacity. Through the first ten days of the postseason, we’ve already witnessed the following: a Knicks fan spitting on Trae Young, a fan in Philadelphia dumping popcorn on Russell Westbrook, several fans in Utah being kicked out after inappropriate comments towards Ja Morant’s family, and this past weekend, a Boston fan in a bootleg Kevin Garnett Celtics jersey was arrested and charged with assault and battery with a dangerous weapon after tossing a water bottle at Kyrie Irving. The trend continued on Monday night, when a Wizards fan sprinted onto the court before being tackled by security. He was arrested and escorted from the arena.
Damian Lillard was asked about the incidents and put it best when he said there is no perfect solution to controlling what fans do. There are, however, ways to curb this kind of behavior from fans. One easy fix solution would be to designate a player in the arena and allow them to confront people in the stands if needed. For obvious reasons, the league would never allow this, especially after all the steps they’ve gone to clean up the game after the “Malice at the Palace” incident in Detroit. But this would be a very effective way to shut down any of this kind of irrational behavior from fans.
Here are some candidates — both past and present — we could nominate for the position.