Spurs coach Gregg Popovich shares thoughts on fan-player relations in light of Russell Westbrook incident
San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich doesn’t know the full details of what happened with Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook and a Utah Jazz fan, but the outspoken coach gave his two cents on the matter — particularly about fan-player relations.
On Monday evening, Westbrook was heckled by a Jazz fan who allegedly said some highly inappropriate things to the All-Star guard. In the heat of the moment, Westbrook was unable to hold himself back and responded to the fan with some profane words as well.
A lot has been said about the issue, with plenty of NBA players showing their support to Westbrook. And while Popovich didn’t take sides given his lack of information, the Spurs coach said that he can’t blame Russ for his reaction to the heckling.
“Who knows what was said or not said? I don’t know what those details are,” said Popovich, via Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News. “It is true in my mind that there is a certain segment of fans who must take out their personal frustrations for some reason on athletes. I’ve heard lots of things that have been thrown out there that are over the line and inappropriate, and under normal circumstances out on the street would demand some sort of a response. It’s difficult to just put your eyes down, shut up and keep walking sometimes. I can understand the frustration in a player who reacts to something that is said that is totally inappropriate and off base.”
While Westbrook was fined by the league for his role in the incident, the aforementioned Jazz fan has been banned from attending the team’s games in Utah.
However, it is also worth noting that this was not the first unfortunate encounter that Westbrook has had with the fans in Utah, which may have ultimately led to the eventual punishment for everyone involved.