Issue 88: NBA player fan interactions we can be proud of

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Issue 88: NBA Player Fan Interactions We Can Be Proud Of

The NBA playoffs are in full swing now, and we’ve had numerous occasions of fans being way too entitled. They’ve thrown popcorn on players, tossed water bottles at them, spat on them, and spewed vulgarities at their families.

None of that should ever happen. It’s possible to watch a game without being a part of it. And, in fact, that’s what fans should strive for. Essentially non-existent player fan interaction.

At any basketball game, we’re all paying to see what’s happening on the court. We don’t need to see Tommy Windsor in his misshapen Celtics jersey trying to take out a Brooklyn Net.

And if you do interact with a player, it better be in a moment like one of these.

LeBron James: “Let me take a selfie”

At any given moment during an NBA game, you’ll experience some downtime.

Some fans take the opportunity to hit up the concession stand, perhaps for a pretzel or some nachos. Others head to the bathroom.

The smart ones, though? They go courtside and try to high-five LeBron James.

During a replay review in a Cavs/Hawks game in Cincinnati in 2015, LeBron took a seat at the scorer’s table. A smattering of kids headed toward him.

He offered them a bit of dap, fist-bumping whoever reached out for one. Then he somehow procured a phone and snapped a picture with the barrage of fans.

My favorite part is the kid on the right realizing he could get into the frame at the last second. I’d love to see how that selfie turned out.

Oh, wait. Thanks to the power of the internet, we can. Pretty solid work, LeBron!

Luka Doncic demolishes a child, then makes his day

Luka Doncic has been having a coming-out party during these NBA playoffs, casually dismantling the Los Angeles Clippers despite having a significant neck injury.

If you’ve ever had a stiff neck, you know even turning slightly is an effort. As Tony Hawk puts it:

“You know when you call out to someone, and they turn to look? When I turn, you’d be like, ‘Oh, what’s wrong with your neck?’”

To be winning playoff games with a significantly worse neck is amazing. But not as impressive as this moment from the 2018-19 season, when Doncic turned a disastrous courtside encounter into something magical.

Doncic hustled after a loose ball and violently bounced off a child in the front row. The kid was clearly shaken up.

Doncic, who is no small man, gingerly got up and checked on the kid. After the game, he returned and gave him the jersey off his back. He even signed it to make it an extra special memento.

Hey, for a signed jersey from one of the league’s greats, I’d take a player freight train coming at me, too. What a great NBA player fan interaction.

Javale McGee with a smooch

Javale McGee truly is a national treasure. He has his own regular spot on Inside the NBA’s Shaqtin’ a Fool, chronicling the most boneheaded plays in the league.

Then Shaquille O’Neal’s mom, Lucille, told the big fella to knock it off. He was being too mean to Mr. McGee.

While we won’t see McGee on these blooper reels anymore, we still have our memories. And YouTube. So we can watch them anytime.

I’d even argue this isn’t a blooper at all. McGee hustles to save a ball that’s careening out of bounds. He conveniently lands in an empty courtside seat and gives the woman next to him a peck on the cheek, then hustles to get back on defense.

Whenever you sit courtside, it’s possible a ball or some sweat might come your way. This is probably more than anyone would bargain for, though.

Mike Scott takes a swig

While McGee dove into the stands during a home game, Philadelphia’s Mike Scott went headfirst into an away crowd.

His play might be even more impressive, as it directly led to a teammate’s basket. But the true glory came moments after.

As Scott is sprawled out across several Milwaukee Bucks fans, he takes the opportunity to grab one fan’s beer and take a quick sip.

His fellow Mike (Tirico, calling the game) makes the astute observation that Milwaukee is home to a lot of breweries. Wisconsin has roughly 228 of them, which puts it at #14 on the “number of breweries in states” list.

Unclear what kind of beer this is (perhaps a Milwaukee’s Best, to stay on theme). But it probably cost $12, at least, so I’m glad Scott only snuck a tiny sip.

Scottie Pippen with some choice words for Spike Lee

Spike Lee is a mainstay at New York Knicks basketball games. You’ll routinely see him on the sidelines, supporting his team (or, in the case of the Knicks’ playoff exit this week, leaving early).

In the playoffs, he’ll even come out to road games. During the 1994 postseason, Scottie Pippen had a VICIOUS dunk over Patrick Ewing. Like, fall out of your seat into a puddle, it’s so nasty.

Because of the momentum of the dunk, Ewing tumbled to the floor, much like I would if trying to do a cartwheel. Pippen stands over his fallen foe, then walks to the sideline.

Wouldn’t you know it, that’s exactly where Spike Lee is sitting. And Scottie offers him a few words of advice.

I’ll let you read his lips from here.

Other Reads and Watches

The NBA made a video asking fans to calm down

Owen Phillips on step-back jumper data

Britni de la Cretaz on announcers mispronouncing the names of WNBA players

Zach Kram: Where has home-court advantage gone?

That’s all ’til next time. Thanks for reading!


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