NBA needs to do more to protect its players

Patrick Beverley of the Houston Rockets was fined $25,000 after having an altercation with a fan when the Rockets lost at Oklahoma City in Game 3 of the First Round of the NBA Playoffs on April 21.

This may be something that seems pretty run-of-the-mill, and could have been something that more or less blew over in the eyes of the media after the investigation regarding Beverley’s altercation following the game. However, when Beverley spoke about the fine and the incident, he went off by saying the NBA does not do enough to protect its players.

Patrick Beverley. Photos via NBA.com.

Now, one would imagine that the most prestigious basketball league in the world with some of the most talented players does all that it takes to protect its players and keep them safe. But Beverley brought up points that were not known to the common fan in his interview.

According to ESPN, he explained the incident, saying, “I’m OK with the hazing. I’m OK with the boos. I’m OK with other fans rooting for their team. But I’m not OK with the blatant disrespect while I’m on the ground after a foul and a fan is yelling out to me, ‘F-you Patrick Beverley, F-you Patrick Beverley, F-you Patrick Beverley,’ and waving a clapper in my face.”

It may not seem like a big issue, but to anyone who has played any sort of sport, what the peanut gallery says can take a toll on you. Trash talking is a part of the game that has had an impact on players mentally and emotionally. Muggsy Bogues claimed that when he faced Michael Jordan in 1995, Jordan’s trash talking ruined Bogues’ career. But there is zero reason why it should extend to the fans.

Fans are in arenas, stadiums and parks to watch the game. They cheer for the home team and enjoy watching their favorite team play right in front of their very eyes, sometimes only being less than 100 feet from all the action.

When fans attend games, it’s known that there’ll be dissatisfaction involved. But not nearly enough is done to protect players from being exposed to trash talking. Part of this is due to fan persistence and lack of real punishment if a fan is caught taunting a player. We constantly hear of soccer players harassed for their race, resulting in nothing more than a social media alert. In the past few NBA seasons, we have seen fans taunt LeBron James, most notably in the Finals at Oracle Arena, and a Hornets-Thunder game stopped while officials ordered an usher to halt a fan from screaming at Kevin Durant.

Fans get an experience like no other; witnessing sports up close and personal, and usually for a decent price. For fans to take the experience and become headlines for the wrong reasons is unnecessary and is a malefactor to the league. For Beverley to feel uncomfortable in any arena to the extent where he needs to revisit a fan because of a view choice words is absurd.

Beverley noted that this isn’t his first incident with fans in Oklahoma City, citing that he needed the police at his hotel because someone threatened to kill him when Russell Westbrook went down with a season ending injury in the playoffs four years ago.

The purpose of fan involvement at games is not to harass players or to make them feel uncomfortable to the point where they cannot play the game. The NBA needs to take precautions against this in order to make for a safer environment.

Matt Lamb is a broadcasting and visual media major from Howell, N.J. He can be reached at matthew.lamb@student.shu.edu or on Twitter @MattS_Lamb.

Author: Matt Lamb

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