Russell Westbrook Hit With Popcorn After Injury, NBA Narrowly Avoids Ugly Incident

The triple-double king nearly went into the stands to confront a misbehaving fan

Washington Wizards point guard Russell Westbrook on the NBA court
Russell Westbrook reacts after a play against the Indiana Pacers.
Will Newton/Getty

After being forced to exit a playoff game against the 76ers on Wednesday night, the NBA’s triple-double king had to be held back from going into the stands to give a Philadelphia fan his two cents.

Pelted with popcorn while he was walking into the tunnel to the locker room on a bad ankle, Washington Wizards point guard Russell Westbrook nearly went into the stands to confront the misbehaving fan who hit him with the salty snack.

Speaking after the Wizards’ 120-95 loss, which gave the 76ers a 2-0 series lead in the first-round playoff series, Westbrook said having popcorn dumped on him was “crossing the line” and that “shit is getting out of hand.”

“There are certain things that cross the line. In any other setting, I know for a fact — a guy wouldn’t come up on the street and pour popcorn on my head, because you know what would happen. Fortunately, I couldn’t get to the stands, but I just don’t take that lightly, man,” he said. “It happens to me a lot of the time, but obviously, I’ve learned to look away. But to a certain extent, you can’t just look away. There have to be some penalties put in place or something where fans can’t just come to the games and do and say as they please, because they wouldn’t do that shit anywhere else, in any other setting. And I’m sick and tired of it, honestly.”

Westbrook, who was involved in a previous incident in Philly that resulted in a fan being ejected for giving the former MVP matching middle fingers, went on to say the NBA needs to do a better job protecting players and eliminate fans feeling they can act without consequences.

Metta Sandiford-Artest, who was the star of the infamous “Malice at the Palace” after he was hit with a cup of beer while playing for the Pacers in Detroit in 2004, told USA Today he felt for Westbrook while watching the game on TV.

“I felt like I was going to run into the stands,” Sandiford-Artest told USA Today. “It shook me up a little bit. How do you throw popcorn on a player? Westbrook was pissed, and he had the right to be pissed. But I’m so happy that he was around people. Security was incredible. Popcorn doesn’t hurt, but that’s really disrespectful. The problem is an athlete at that point in time is focused on the game. You can’t throw stuff when you’re watching people perform. You can’t throw stuff at anybody. It doesn’t matter where you’re at.”

Game 3 of the series is on Saturday in Washington. Westbrook’s status is questionable due to the injured ankle.

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