Westbrook popcorn incident draws cries for action

NBA players are calling for actions to protect players from fans after a Philadelphia 76ers fan threw popcorn on Washington Wizards player Russell Westbrook as the star player was leaving the game with an ankle injury.

Video captured popcorn being dropped on Westbrook after he exited the floor through a hallway. Wizards staff then had to restrain a visibly furious Westbrook, who appeared to want to confront the fan — who was a good 20 feet up in the stands. 

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Westbrook addressed the incident during the postgame press conference, saying fans' mocking interactions with players were getting out of hand and that it was disrespectful for fans to feel that they could do whatever they want at a game.

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"In any other setting, I’m all for fans enjoying the game. It’s part of sports, I get it. But there are some things that cross the line," said Westbrook, who has previously been targeted by fans who have used obscene gestures or racial slurs against him. "In any other setting, I know for a fact that fans ... they wouldn’t come up — a guy wouldn’t come up on the street and pour popcorn on my head. Because we’d know what happen.” 

Other players expressed support for Westbrook, including fellow Wizards starter Bradley Beal and the game's biggest star, Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James. 

He said the league should take action in a tweet.

Westbrook, the NBA’s all time triple-double leader, has been involved in fan-related incidents in the past few years.

In 2019, the league fined Westbrook $25,000 for shouting profanity and threatening a fan during a Utah Jazz game, according to a Washington Post report.

Westbrook claimed the fan, who was later banned from attending Jazz games, was heckling him with racist and profane comments.

The Wells Fargo Center, where the 76ers play, issued a statement on the incident as well, calling the behavior from the fan “classless and unacceptable.”

The Hill has reached out to the NBA for comment.