It took a year and the loss of hundreds of thousands of lives before a vaccine was discovered to battle and stifle the COVID pandemic. Unfortunately, no amount of time will result in a cure for stupid.
We have seen four heinous incidents at NBA games – not to mention numerous fight videos at MLB games given the celebrity that goes with viral.
And they were all disgusting. These are sports, where people are allowed to cheer for their teams, build wardrobes around their favorite players and logos. This isn’t supposed to be supporters of political parties creating uncivil strife. It’s okay to agree to disagree.
The United States – heck, practically the whole world – has been stuck at home, unable to attend events. And then as people return to the greatest form of celebration and entertainment – games incredible athletes play -- a few remind us sports are not immune to the ills that have overtaken society.
"Everyone's been cooped up with COVID and staying home and clamoring for sports and being back in social arenas and atmospheres, and this is what you do," Grizzlies coach Taylor Jenkins said. "It's at the core of humanity that needs to get addressed, and I am just beyond disappointed. ... But to know that this exists in our country, our NBA arenas, our fan bases, something further has to be addressed … ."
Ja Morant’s family in Utah. An injured Russell Westbrook exiting the court in Philadelphia. Trae Young at Madison Square Garden. A water bottle thrown at the head of Kyrie Irving in Boston. Four great players all subjected to the unconscionable.
"First, I'd like to apologize to Ja and his family," Utah Jazz coach Quin Snyder said Friday, a day after the family of the Memphis Grizzlies’ star was the target of racist and sexist comments during Game 1 of the Western Conference playoffs. "No one should have to be subjected to the kind of behavior that they were the other night. It's deplorable. And the people that made those comments should be banned for life. I'm sorry for [his family] to have to endure that and as I said it's deplorable and concerning and should not be tolerated."
No one is absolutely correct. Never. Anywhere.
The person who spat on Atlanta Hawks star Young and the one who threw popcorn on Washington Wizards great Russell Westbrook received bans from the New York Knicks and Philadelphia 76ers, respectively. Utah banned the trio of fans who harassed Morant’s family.
The Jazz’s star guard Donovan Mitchell weighed in brilliantly
"We're at a point now, we're a team that, we're giving scholarships to underrepresented kids in the community and the majority of them are minorities," Jazz star Donovan Mitchell said. "And I feel like it's kind of contradicting when stuff like this happens, and I feel like it's kind of messed up that it happens. And it's not just here; it's not just a Utah thing. It's happened here before. It's happened a few times since I've been here. It's something that I'm really passionate about because at the end of the day we play for the Jazz. So what you're saying about Ja's mother and father, you're saying to my mother and father, [Derrick Favors'] mother and father. It's not like you're speaking to the Grizzlies -- you're only speaking to a Black man, Black woman, and I feel like that's first.
"Basketball is what it is, but that's first. And that's what we are. We're African American men and women first, and when you go out there and say something like that, that's just terrible and ridiculous."
Westbrook had been the target of Utah fans long before the 76er fool decided it was okay to use him as target practice for popcorn. Coincidentally, this week a judge threw out a suit by the fans who had sued him after an incident they incited while courtside at a game.
A Utah judge tossed out a $100M suit against Russell Westbrook and the Utah Jazz filed by two fans banned from Jazz games after taunts toward Westbrook in a March 2019 game, per court documents. Shane Keisel and Jennifer Huff claimed defamation and infliction of emotional stress.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) May 27, 2021
There is another side and certainly a twisted one. What on earth were the arena workers thinking in Tampa when they threatened to call the police on a father and his 11-year-old son the other night because the youngster was wearing a Florida Panthers jersey at a Lightning home game? Is this is how confused the sports world has become?
As John Romano of Tampabay.com astutely wrote: Sporting venues should be the one place where we celebrate our differences peacefully and joyfully. If we can’t be civil to each other while cheering at a hockey game, how can we possibly co-exist anywhere else?
Fortunately, Lightning management came to its senses and rescinded the policy. Sanity prevails in what has become an insane universe.
“After careful consideration the Lightning have elected to relax its visiting team apparel policy in the premium clubs for playoff games at Amalie Arena. The policy was originally instituted in 2015 at the request of our valued ticket holders in those areas, but we realize we have grown as an organization and as a hockey market since that time and it is no longer necessary.”
There was the debate – pressed on by sports-talk radio – as to whether organizations should reveal the identities of the offenders.
Some said yes while others feared reprisal. People could lose their jobs. Others could try and exact revenge by targeting the offenders’ homes. They don’t have private security for protection. And on and on and on…
Maybe they should have thought about repercussions before turning the highest-level of NBA play into the lowest level of human behavior.
Gotta get this under control. @russwest44 gets popcorn thrown on him & @TheTraeYoung gets spat on. I can deal with all the chants about my son, it comes with it. But this needs to be addressed.@NBAonTNT @NBA @espn @nyknicks @NBATheJump https://t.co/0WoO5jtAc2— Ray Young (@rayfordyoung) May 27, 2021
And speaking of reprisal, the fool who threw a water bottle at the head of Irving after Brooklyn thumped Boston on Sunday was arrested and is looking at a lifetime ban from TD Garden.
Charles Barkley on Celtics fan who threw water bottle at Kyrie Irving "Look at that punk ass, just take him down stairs at let Kyrie handle that pic.twitter.com/b9a53BvGQt— gifdsports (@gifdsports) May 31, 2021
"You're seeing a lot of old ways come up,” Irving said, “just underlying racism and treating people like they're in a human zoo. Throwing stuff at people, saying things. There is a certain point where it gets to be too much."
Kevin Durant delivered a succinct and accurate message.
"Fans got to grow up at some point. ... We're not animals. We're not in a circus."— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) May 31, 2021
KD speaks out against the fan who threw a water bottle at Kyrie Irving. pic.twitter.com/9GboIQLloi
Hawks coach Nate McMillan is spot on with his comments after his star guard Young was verbally abused – there is a huge difference between MSG’s iconic “Potvin sucks” and “F—You Trae Young.”
"You have to draw a line," McMillan said. "Unfortunately, I just think we're living in a society where really, people just don't have respect anymore. In no way should that be allowed or should that happen at a sporting event or really any event where you are coming to watch a game. I think New York did what they should've done in that situation. It's uncalled for. And it shouldn't happen.