Sir Charles is Right, Let 'em Fight
2 days ago, an injured Russell Westbrook had the unfortunate experience of having popcorn rained down upon his head from a knucklehead Sixer's Fan. Westbrook was rightfully steamed after the game and I think if he wasn't injured, he may have attempted to go into the stands.
It was a moot point though, because within minutes of the incident, LeBron James' grubby hands were already on his phone as he took to Twitter:
"By the way WE AS THE PLAYERS wanna see who threw that popcorn on Russ while he was leaving the game tonight with a injury!! There’s cameras all over arenas so there’s no excuse! Cause if the (shoe emoji) was on the other (foot emoji.) #protectourplayers. "
Why does LeBron want the cameras to show the fan? Because he quickly wanted to inject race into the conversation. Bad LeBron. The undertone being White Fans attacking Black Players. [Just like LeBron is a Social Justice Warrior SPECIFICALLY when White Cops shoot Black Citizens.]
A day later TNT Analyst Charles Barkley said:
“Y’all guys always get mad when I say what NBA rule I would change, I think you should be able to go up in the stands and beat the hell out of one person per game.” -SPUN
Of course Sir Charles was using hyperbole, but his sentiment remains correct. If a fan takes a run at you, you should be able to take a run at them. He didn't ask about creed or color, you take a run at an NBA Player, they should be able to take a run at you.
And then it reminded me of an incident that I wrote about in 2019. There were more and more fans behaving badly leading up to the 2020 season, and then Covid came and emptied the arenas. Now that the arenas are filling back up again, it's back to the same old problems that were never solved.
Editor's Note: Reprinted with permission from ourselves. (5/12/19)
"What Kyle Korver fails to point out is that there are mechanisms today to eject fans.
Back in 2004, Ron Artest was laying down and some doofus chucked a beer at him. Ron Artest then went into the stands to administer some vigilante justice. You can watch the video for yourself above. I was in the minority and respected Ron Artest for going into the stands. Some A-Hole throws a beer at you and it's go time.
But if you go back and listen to the AUDIO version of the clip, one of the announcers also supported Artest going into the stands based on the premise that the fans deserved it for all of the racist taunts endured by the players over the years. I don't disagree with the sentiment, but my question is why have the players had to endure racist taunts?
Your beef should be with the NBA for allowing it. You should be telling your employer you won't play in a hostile work environment. If you don't control your crowd, you're going to go into the stands, Slap Shot-style, and pound on some racists.
Ron Artest ended up losing nearly $5 million in salary through an 86 game suspension. That penalty did NOT fit the crime, but the NBA didn't want the precedence of players looking like "thugs."
If you told a black player today that you'd kick him out of the league for beating a racist fan, can you imagine the shitstorm that would happen in the media? The NBA bears some of the responsibility for not protecting it's own players. Let's use Kyle Korver's Utah Jazz as an example. This past year, the Utah Jazz payed its 15 players $113,000,000. Let's have those 15 players take a vote. Do you want to sacrifice $1,000,000 [collectively] for heavy security around the court. Every fan that throws racist taunts around is quickly apprehended and banned from the arena for life. You can't use the excuse that you don't have the manpower to police all unruly fans.
You don't go to jail, but you don't have a Constitutional Right to watch the Utah Jazz live either, so you just lose your $10,000 investment of courtside seats. If I wanted to swear at a Jazz player (I wouldn't, but just follow me here) they would never hear me. Sitting in the nosebleed section, I could swear all I wanted, all the players would hear is static.
You know who's taunting the Rich Black Players and they hear it? Rich White Fans. Rich White Fans that don't think they're getting a return on investment. If they were real racists, they wouldn't buy NBA tickets. So if you're upset with racist taunts, blame the people who partially pay your salary, not random Bloggers in the Midwest. Your salary does not come from a magical spigot. It comes from ticket sales and TV money.
"Oh yeah, when's the last time you heard racist taunts at work for being white?"
Really? That's your take? Okay that would be thirteen days ago. [Hey, thanks to XXX XXXX XXXXXXX XXXX XXXX XX XXX #17.]
Let me re-iterate, nothing is stopping Kyle Korver and his fellow players from going into the stands except for money. You know that the fans are unarmed, they have to wait in long lines just to be admitted into the arena."
All problems have solutions. Let's say that LeBron really thinks the biggest problem in the NBA is the fans. (And it's plausible that he believes that.) Here are some simple solutions:
Play in Front of No Fans: If last year's bubble taught us anything, it's that it is possible to play in front of no fans. The players hated the bubble because it restricted their movements, like no bars or strip clubs, but I actually think the players LIKED the no fans part. Tell LeBron that he and the other players only have to take a 50% pay cut to get this concession. (Hint: No player wants a pay cut.)
Move the Fans Away from the Players: Baseball and football fans really aren't that close to the players. In hockey, there's boards between the fans and players. In some South American countries, there's moats and barbed wire fences between the players and the fans. Take away the expensive courtside seats and remove fans from the first 5 rows all around the court. Tell LeBron that he and the other players only have to take a 20% pay cut to get this concession. (Hint' No player wants a pay cut.)
Let the Players Fight: There's a strange dynamic in the NBA where players are arguably the friendliest with one another than in all of the major sports. If you let the players fight on a limited basis (like in hockey), it would give the appearance that the players cared more than the fans. (Which isn't always the case now.) I'm not sure how the players would feel about this.
Let the Players and the Fans Fight: This is the Charles Barkley Plan. Someone spits on you as a player, you go into the stands and split their lip. Of course you can't say that you're going to let players go into the stands, but you reduce the penalty down to something, like, a $100,000 fine and 3 game suspension for defending yourself. You would only get a Ron Artest-type fine for being an instigator. I have no problem with this plan.
Hire More Police: Load the courtside area with police and eject bad behaving fans. Only problem with this plan is that it's a bad look for social justice warriors like LeBron James to advocate defunding the police, while playing under a greater police presence.
No one should have to work in a hostile work environment. The question is how much will the players push back to achieve their goals?