The NBA went 3-for-3 with fans getting banned during Wednesday's slate of NBA playoff games.
A day after a Philadelphia 76ers fan got tossed and banned for dumping popcorn on Russell Westbrook and hours after the New York Knicks banned a fan for spitting on Trae Young, the Utah Jazz announced they had ejected and indefinitely banned three fans for a "verbal altercation" during Game 2 against the Memphis Grizzlies.
The Utah Jazz have zero tolerance for offensive or disruptive behavior. An incident occurred last night involving a verbal altercation during Game 2. Arena security staff intervened, and the investigation resulted in the removal and banning of three Jazz fans indefinitely.
We apologize to all who were impacted by this unfortunate incident and condemn unacceptable fan behavior. The Utah Jazz are committed to ensuring a safe and respectful environment.
According to Andy Larsen of The Salt Lake Tribune, the nature of that altercation was the trio heckling the family of Grizzlies star Ja Morant. Later, Morant appeared to confirm that was the case in a tweet.
Warning, the following tweet contains NSFW language:
The incident occurred during the Jazz's 141-129 win over the Grizzlies to even the first-round series 1-1, though Morant finished with 47 points.
What the Jazz fans reportedly said to get banned
ESPN's Tim MacMahon soon reported what the three Jazz fans had allegedly said to warrant an ejection and ban, and it wasn't pretty:
Tee Morant said one fan made a sexually explicit remark to his wife, Jamie. Tee Morant, who was sitting a couple of seats over, confronted the man before security de-escalated the situation, ejecting the Jazz fan.
According to Tee Morant, another Jazz fan told him, "I'll put a nickel in your back and watch you dance, boy." Several other Jazz fans, who had been enjoying good-spirited trash talk with the Morants and their family friends, confronted that fan and alerted security. Tee Morant said he was shocked that the Jazz fan, who was ejected, made such a comment with the man's young daughter by his side.
The third fan who was ejected yelled at Jamie Morant, "Shut the f— up, b—," Tee Morant said.
This is the second time this week the use of "boy" as a racially derogatory remark has come up in the basketball world, as James Wade, head coach of the WNBA's Chicago Sky, alleged a ref had said the same to him on Tuesday.
Behavior of NBA fans suddenly an issue
This year's NBA playoffs was widely anticipated for the return of fans after a postseason spent in isolation at Disney World. In the span of 24 hours, the behavior of some of those fans has become a public talking point.
In response to at least the Westbrook and Young incidents, the NBA announced an enhanced code of conduct on Thursday morning, promising vigorous enforcement:
"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 in a statement. "An enhanced fan code of conduct will be vigorously enforced in order to ensure a safe and respectful environment for all involved."
We'll see if that changes anything.