Fan pours popcorn on injured Russell Westbrook as he walks to locker room
The enraged Westbrook had to be restrained by trainers and assistants after the incident as he yelled at the fan.
Washington Wizards guard Russell Westbrook was helped off the court during Game Two of his team’s playoff match against the Philadelphia 76ers.
As he limped down the tunnel, a 76ers fan poured popcorn on the injured player’s head as he left the floor. The enraged Westbrook had to be restrained by trainers and assistants after the incident as he angrily yelled at the fan.
According to Sports Illustrated, the rude fan was eventually ejected after other fans in the stands pointed to and identified the offending culprit for security.
“This is just plain stupidity, somebody pouring some popcorn,” a commentator said in a clip of the incident. “Any athlete, being Westbrook or whomever, they are pumped with their adrenaline. He’s probably feeling bad, his team may be en route here to losing this game.”
Westbrook’s team did lose the game. The Wizards lost to the 76ers 120-95, giving the Philly squad a 2-0 lead in the playoff series.
After their defeat, Westbrook spoke about the incident from the press room, where he demanded better protection for players. “To be completely honest, this s–t is getting out of hand, especially for me. The amount of disrespect, the amount of fans just doing whatever the f–k they want to do — it’s just out of pocket.”
Per ESPN, Westbrook continued: “There are certain things that cross the line. Any other setting … a guy were to come up on the street and pour popcorn on my head, you know what happens.”
“In these arenas, you got to start protecting the players,” he said. “We’ll see what the NBA does.”
Wizards Coach Scott Brooks also condemned the encounter, calling it, “very disrespectful,” adding, “Philadelphia is better than that.”
NBA star LeBron James demanded to see the person who commented the offense, writing on Twitter: “By the way WE AS THE PLAYERS wanna see who threw that popcorn on Russ while he was leaving the game tonight with a injury!! There’s cameras all over arenas so there’s no excuse! Cause if the [shoe] was on the other [foot].”
He added #ProtectOurPlayers to the end of the tweet.
There have been several incidents of fans being ejected for disrespecting Westbrook in several different arenas. In his comments following this most recent incident, he said fans “feel they are untouchable. To get food thrown on top of me, it’s just bulls**t.”
He said he’s learned to “look the other way” but encouraged the league to implement penalties.
“I really take this very personal,” said the All-Star. “I am tired of the same thing. To me, I don’t really see nothing changing. It just gets worse.”