Things could’ve gone a lot worse following a recent game between the New York Knicks and the Atlanta Hawks after a peeved fan lodged a spitball at Hawks star Trae Young.
The offense took place on Wednesday, May 26, during the Knicks’ 101-92 victory at New York’s Madison Square Garden in Game 2 to even the teams’ first-round NBA Eastern Conference playoffs series at 1-1. While Young may have given an impressive performance that night, scoring 30 points, a fan sitting in the second row wearing a Knicks shirt felt otherwise when he spat over fans — including rapper 50 Cent — hitting Young, who was on the court at the time, in the back.
The 22-year-old point guard seemingly took no offense following an exchange he shared on Twitter with the “Get Rich or Die Tryin’” emcee. The athlete reposted a clip of the fan spitting on him, writing, “Damn… Crazy! @50cent y’all good?! 😂😂😂.”
In another post the following morning, Young wrote, “Keep ya mask on my boy 😷😅 #ThatsJustChildish.”
On Thursday afternoon, the Knicks released a statement on their official Twitter account apologizing to Young and revealing that the fan was disciplined for his actions. “We investigated the matter and determined that this patron, who is not a season ticket holder, did indeed spit on Trae Young, and for that reason, he is now banned from The Garden indefinitely.” The statement continued, “We apologize to Trae and the entire Atlanta Hawks organization for this fan’s behavior. This was completely unacceptable and will not be tolerated in our venue. We have turned the information over to the appropriate authorities.”
ESPN reported that the star opted not to press charges against the fan. Meanwhile, his agent, Omar Wilkes, told the outlet, “We appreciate the Garden’s response to the incident, and Trae’s focus remains on his teammates and Game 3.”
Wednesday night’s occurrence was one of two fan-related acts of misconducts that took place. Over in Philadelphia, another fan decided to pour popcorn on Russell Westbrook’s head as the Washington Wizards star left the court with ten minutes left in the game against the Philadelphia 76ers after twisting his ankle.
In a statement to ESPN, the ballplayer called upon the NBA to enforce better rules to prevent similar instances from happening. “I have learned to look the other way. But to a certain extent, you can’t just keep looking the other way,” Westbrook explained. “There has to be some penalties or something to put in place where fans just can’t come to the games and do and say as they please. I really take this very personal. I am tired of the same thing. To me, I don’t really see nothing changing. It just gets worse.”
Similarly, that fan, who was a season ticket holder, had his seating privileges revoked, effective immediately. Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports reported, “in addition, he will be banned from all events at Wells Fargo Center indefinitely.”