The NBA wants fans talking about the push for the playoffs. It is fine with talk about where Kevin Durant/Kyrie Irving/Kawhi Leonard/Jimmy Butler but the league office wishes there was less of it (as do most players).
What the league office doesn’t want is talk of rude fan behavior and how players respond to it.
Yet that’s the topic that exploded after Russell Westbrook yelled profanity at a Jazz fan and his wife after said fan made rude comments that completely crossed the line of decency. The Utah Jazz organization investigated the matter and permanently banned the fan from the arena.
The league office sent a memo to all teams asking them to take steps to reduce the likelihood of more incidents like this happen in the future. Via Shams Charania of The Athletic.
In wake of Russell Westbrook/Utah fan incident, the NBA has sent a memo to its 30 teams asking them to create PSA or league-developed spot to stress “importance of respect and civility in NBA arenas.”
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) March 14, 2019
It’s a good gesture.
What will help more than a PSA on the big screen fans will ignore is stricter enforcement by arena security. There has been a reluctance to confront paying customers yelling at the opposing teams (in many, but not all venues), that needs to change. Heckle a player for what is happening on the court and it’s all good, but there is a clear, bright line between that and getting personal or dragging family into the picture. We all know where that line is. Security just has to be on its game.
I expect after the Westbrook security will be tighter. At least for a while.