Earlier this week in a Charlotte Hornets home game against the Oklahoma City Thunder, a fan decided to try to make himself a part of the show. He screamed and heckled all night long at the Thunder's Kevin Durant, and he was well within his rights to do just that. We encourage fans to jeer at opposing players, and sometimes the opposing players will get into it and jeer right back. Of course, there's a very thin line that can easily be crossed. The fan that was heckling Durant crossed that line. Because of him, the entire game had to be stopped while he received a warning from ushers.
From what most of us can gather it appears that Durant and the fan were jawing back and forth as happens during an NBA game. Then, for whatever reason, said fan decided to stand up. The reason he gave? Well, Dane Carbaugh has a nice breakdown of the fan interaction in this week's Baseline Rewind. There's also an appearance by former Hornet, Gerald Henderson, in a fun X's and O's breakdown of the Portland TrailBlazers.
Yes, the fan claimed that he was worried former MVP Kevin Durant was going to "sucker punch" him. This might be the most ridiculous excuse for confronting an NBA player ever. If he actually thought Durant was going to punch him then he's crazy. If he was making it up then he's a fool.
Now, I'm not going to rant about the way fans should act during games. Most of them know about getting close to NBA players, and they're aware of where the lines are. When they pay for their ticket they can boo about whatever they want, and say whatever they'd like within reason. That's part of creating a home court advantage. However, fans of the Hornets and basketball in general need to be very careful with moments like this. The ability to be this close to the players, and interact with them this way doesn't exist in any other professional sport. In football the seats are an eternity away from the field. Baseball's a little better, but still a good distance. It's not too bad in hockey, but there's glass separating the players from the fans for obvious safety reasons. The NBA? Moments like this can happen where Carmelo Anthony hits a game winner and fans grab at his jersey in celebration.
Moments like this are awesome. They're fun. They're what makes the NBA as great as it is, and I want moments like this to continue to happen. However, I always have a sense of fear that the ability to be as close as you can to the game will one day be taken away from us. One bad moment is all that's needed to lose this amazing part of the NBA that no other sports has.
So when I see fans stand up to Kevin Durant. I get scared. Not because of some fear that Durant is going to punch this guy, or really that the fan is even going to do anything. I'm worried that it's going to go wrong. That we're not going to lose this amazing gift that the NBA has given us.
So please. Hornets fans and really all NBA fans. When you have those courtside seats, and you're talking trash with some of the biggest stars in the world. Just stay in your seat, and enjoy the game. Don't risk ruining something great for everybody.