The 76ers announced the punishment for the unidentified fan Thursday, one day after the incident took place during Philadelphia’s playoff game against Westbrook and the Washington Wizards.
“We apologize to Russell Westbrook and the Washington Wizards for being subjected to this type of unacceptable and disrespectful behavior,” the Sixers said as part of their statement. “There is no place for it in our sport or arena.”
The NBA also released a statement Thursday, saying an “enhanced fan code of conduct will be vigorously enforced” at arenas during the playoffs.
“The return of more NBA fans to our arenas has brought great excitement and energy to the start of the playoffs, but it is critical that we all show respect for players, officials and our fellow fans,” the league said. “An enhanced fan code of conduct will be vigorously enforced in order to ensure a safe and respectful environment for all involved.”
Westbrook left the game Wednesday after suffering an ankle injury in the fourth quarter and was limping toward the tunnel when the fan dumped the popcorn on the nine-time All-Star.
A furious Westbrook had to be held back by multiple Wizards staffers and arena security guards before heading back down the tunnel. The fan was ejected by security moments later.
“To be completely honest, this s— is getting out of hand, especially for me,” Westbrook said after Washington’s 120-95 loss. “The amount of disrespect, the amount of fans just doing whatever the f— they want to do — it’s just out of pocket. 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. We’ll see what the NBA does.”
Teammate Bradley Beal called the incident “disgusting,” and Wizards coach Scott Brooks said the individual should be banned from the league.
Valerie Camillo, president of business operations for the Wells Fargo Center, released a statement shortly after the game that read: “This was classless, unacceptable behavior, and we’re not going to tolerate it at Wells Fargo Center. We’re proud to have the most passionate fans in the country and the best home-court and home-ice advantage around, but this type of behavior has no place in our arena.”
Four years ago, a fan sitting courtside in Philadelphia was ejected for flipping off Westbrook. In 2019, a fan in Utah was banned from Vivint Smart Home Arena for life after getting into a verbal altercation with Westbrook while he was on the Oklahoma City Thunder bench.
ESPN’s Brian Windhorst contributed to this report.
Center Serge Ibaka exercises option, will return to LA Clippers for second season, sources say
Ibaka picked up his $9.7-million option. The veteran center was the Clippers’ biggest addition during the past offseason in free agency but Ibaka was limited to just 41 regular season games with a back injury.
Ibaka missed 30 straight games with the injury before returning for the final two games of the regular season. He played in the Clippers’ first two playoff games against the Dallas Mavericks before undergoing back surgery later in the postseason.
Ibaka averaged 11.1 points, 6.7 rebounds and 1.1 blocks in more than 23 minutes per game — his lowest average in playing time in a regular season since his first year in Oklahoma City in 2009-10. Ivica Zubac emerged as the starting center during Ibaka’s absence in the regular season. But Zubac missed the last two games of the Western Conference finals with a sprained MCL.
Ibaka’s player option decision was first reported by The Athletic.
Bobby Portis declining his option with Milwaukee Bucks, agent says
The most the Bucks can offer Portis is a $5.9 million exception, according to ESPN’s Bobby Marks.
The 26-year-old Portis was one of the more effective sixth men in the NBA, averaging 11.4 points and 7.1 rebounds during the regular season while averaging 52.3% shooting from the field.
He was a major contributor during the Bucks’ run to the NBA championship, averaging 8.8 points and 5.0 rebounds during the postseason.
Kevin Durant powers Team USA’s rout of Czech Republic on record night
SAITAMA, Japan — The best thing Team USA had going for it this summer was Kevin Durant committing to play. Saturday he reminded everyone why.
On a night when he became the all-time leading American scorer in the Olympics, Durant added another tremendous performance to his Team USA resume in a 119-84 victory over the Czech Republic.
The victory assured Team USA second place in their group and a place in the quarterfinals on Tuesday. Their opponent and game time will be determined in a draw Sunday with the only certainty being there cannot be a rematch with France until at least the semifinals.
Because of their two blowouts wins the last two games, Team USA will end up with a favorable position and avoid top medal contenders Australia, Spain and potentially even Luka Doncic-led Slovenia in the quarters.
Durant finished with 23 points on 8 of 11 shooting, which of course was important for the cause, but his playmaking and defense was just as helpful as he put up eight rebounds and six assists as well. In the third quarter he was masterful, scoring 10 points with four of his assists as it went from a tight game into a comfortable blowout.
He’d had a pedestrian start in Tokyo, scoring just 20 points total in the first two games and shooting just 40%. Even in the run-up games in Vegas, Durant wasn’t moving at full speed as he admitted everything seemed like practice and he shot just 43% percent. Then he fouled out of the opening loss to France, a key factor in the Americans’ offensive struggles.
With Doncic, who scored 48 points in his first Olympic game, off to an impressive start and Australia’s Patty Mills putting up great performances, Durant had faded into the background in the tournament’s first week.
All that lethargy was gone Saturday as he looked for his shot early. The Czechs had gotten off to a strong start, making eight of their first 11 shots and building a 10-point lead. But Durant led a charge to overtake them, his 3-pointer in the second quarter giving the U.S. the lead for good.
It was a relevant basket, not just because it put the team in front, but because it pushed Durant past Carmelo Anthony for the all-time scoring lead. Durant’s international career is impeccable including the 2010 World Cup in Turkey, where he established himself as a centerpiece of the national team for the next decade.
It was also a slump-breaker evening for Jayson Tatum, who had his best game of the summer as he put up 27 points with five 3-pointers. Tatum, who was bothered by a minor knee injury in Vegas, had lost his starting spot. Coach Gregg Popovich had positioned him to be an impact scorer off the bench but he was shooting just 40% in the first two games.
Jrue Holiday, who was again terrific defensively as he pressured the ball relentlessly and picked off three steals, had 11 points.
The Czechs were led by Blake Schlib, who played at Loyola-Chicago, with 17 points.
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