Russell Westbrook, Trae Young fan incidents make Metta World Peace 'shake'

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Westbrook, Trae Young fan incidents make Metta World Peace 'shake' originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

The return of packed arenas has been a major bright spot in an otherwise challenging 2020-21 NBA season, but Wednesday night featured a darker side of fan involvement at games. 

Both Wizards guard Russell Westbrook and Atlanta Hawks guard Trae Young were victims of grossly inappropriate behavior by opposing fans in Philadelphia and New York. Westbrook had popcorn dumped on him as he was exiting Game 2 against the 76ers due to injury, while a Knicks fan spit on Young at Madison Square Garden.

Neither were the first instances of ugly interactions between NBA players and fans in the stands. The most notorious example happened in 2004 between the Indiana Pacers and Detroit Pistons, later dubbed the "Malice at the Palace."

Metta World Peace, previously known as Ron Artest, was a primary participant in a fight between players and fans that night in Detroit and was troubled by the recent incidents in New York and Philadelphia. 

"When I saw this, it made me shake, because I remember when I was in the Palace and ran into the stands," Peace said on Undisputed Thursday. "Trash talking is okay, but when it comes to throwing things and spitting, as fans you can't do that. It's ridiculous."

The infamous "Malice at the Palace" featured a scuffle between Peace and Pistons big man Ben Wallace, but it turned really ugly when Detroit fans threw food and drink at Peace sitting courtside. He then went into the stands and started an ugly brawl with a number of fans. The game was ultimately ended with less than a minute remaining and Peace was suspended for the final 86 games of the 2004-05 season. 

The fan who threw popcorn at Westbrook has since had his season tickets revoked and been banned from Wells Fargo Center indefinitely. Following the Wednesday incidents, the NBA released a statement regarding an "enhanced" fan code of conduct policy going into effect. 

"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," the league said. "An enhanced fan code of conduct will be vigorously enforced in order to ensure a safe and respectful environment for all involved."