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Rogue NBA fan sparks on-court altercation with Russell Westbrook

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There were fireworks all the way to the final buzzer of the Thunder-Nuggets game Thursday in Denver.

There were even more fireworks after the buzzer.

After Gary Harris hit a buzzer-beating 3-pointer to win the game, a Nuggets fan ran into the court and got into Russell Westbrook’s face.

Westbrook responded by shoving the fan before security escorted the man away.


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After the game, Westbrook addressed the incident once and only once.

“You’ve got to be able to protect the players. You play the game, the fans obviously enjoy the game, but they can’t come on the floor,” Westbrook said. “It’s totally unacceptable. They’ll look at it and figure out what’s the best thing to do. To me that’s just totally unacceptable.”

When a reporter tried to ask a follow-up question on the incident, Westbrook cut him off.

“I don’t want to keep talking about it,” he said. “I already made my comment. That’s it.”

Do you think Russell Westbrook should be suspended for pushing the fan?

The NBA’s Fan Code of Conduct states, “Players will respect and appreciate each and every fan,” and Westbrook could come in violation of that edict.

However, he was clearly provoked, and the Code of Conduct also says, “Guests will not engage in fighting, throwing objects or attempting to enter the court, and those who engage in any of these actions will immediately be ejected from the game.”

ESPN reports that the league will review the incident, but many don’t think Westbrook will receive a major punishment if any at all.

During the game broadcast, TNT analyst Reggie Miller said the fan was “lucky he didn’t get knocked out,” which drew a mixed reaction.

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Michael Lee, an NBA writer for Yahoo Sports, thought the incident evoked memories of Jermaine O’Neal in the Malice at the Palace.

O’Neal punched a Pistons fan who had entered the court and attempted to go after Ron Artest during the Pacers-Pistons melee from 2004.

Obviously there was no punch thrown by Westbrook, but O’Neal was originally suspended 25 games for punching a fan before it was reduced to 15 games.

The Westbrook-fan incident overshadowed what was a thrilling contest at the Pepsi Center. The Nuggets dominated throughout most of the game and had a 15-point lead in the fourth quarter.

OKC finally made it a one-possession game with 85 seconds remaining and Paul George hit a step-back 3-pointer with 1.4 seconds to tie the game at 114. That was the game’s first tie since the opening tip and it would be the game’s last tie as Harris then won it for the Nuggets with the first game-winning shot of his NBA career.

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Ross Kelly has been a sportswriter since 2009.
Ross Kelly has been a sportswriter since 2009 and previously worked for ESPN, CBS and STATS Inc. A native of Louisiana, Ross now resides in Houston.
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