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NBA implementing zero-tolerance policy on objectionable fan behavior

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The NBA is implementing a zero-tolerance policy on objectionable fan behavior, according to Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press — a rule that should help ease the burden on players that have been victims of racially-laced insults from fans, as well as physical altercations.

“We’ve added any sexist language or LGBTQ language, any denigrating language in that way, anything that is non-basketball related,” said Jerome Pickett, the NBA’s executive vice president and chief security officer. “So ‘your mother’ comments, talking about your family, talking about test scores, anything non-basketball related, we’ve added that in as well as being something that we will go and pull a fan out of the seat and investigate what happened.”

Russell Westbrook, then of the Oklahoma City Thunder, dealt with a Utah Jazz fan, who along with his wife berated him while he was on the bench. The incident was investigated, resulting in the fans’ lifetime ban from the Vivint Smart Home Arena, as well as another fan that confronted Westbrook during the 2018 NBA playoffs, as both teams squared up against one another in the first round of the postseason. DeMarcus Cousins admitted to having similar experiences when traveling to Utah.

Kyle Lowry was shoved by a minority partner of the Golden State Warriors’ ownership group, who was sitting courtside during the NBA Finals, resulting in a one-year ban from team business and events. That was the last of a recent wave of player-fan incidents, with others like Patrick Beverley and Draymond Green also getting their share of heated moments against some despicable behavior from fans.

“Last season, I began to sense even at the games I was attending that there was a certain, I’ll call it absence of civility, that permeated the games,” said Michele Roberts, the executive director of the National Basketball Players Association. “I was seeing more bad-mouthing opposing teams that were not simply ‘you suck,’ which every one of us will tolerate, but really nasty, nasty comments being directed at players.”

The hope is that this zero-tolerance policy will make fans aware of the repercussions and take away some of the sense of entitlement that has flooded NBA arenas in recent years, to the detriment of the game.