When there's an issue, Draymond Green will be one of the first NBA players to speak up. With fans allowed back in arenas, there have been numerous incidents involving fan misconduct towards players on the court.
Green joined Shaquille O'Neal's "The Big Podcast," where he discussed his frustrations with how the NBA has handled fan interactions and the lack of protection for players.
“The NBA has taken it so far left to where a guy says ‘f--- you,’ and you say ‘f--- you’ back, you’ll get fined," Green said. "It’s like, where is the protection for the players?
"Now when you see all these instances where there’s actual spit, or there’s a water bottle thrown this close to Kyrie [Irving]’s face, where there’s popcorn poured on [Russell Westbrook], then it’s like, ‘oh man, maybe we do need to protect the players.’ No, you should have been protecting the players."
When a player on the court gets into it with a fan in the stands, oftentimes the player can be fined for the interaction -- even if the fan were to start it. Draymond believes the league needs to do a better job at protecting the players.
"When you take it so far left to where a fan is like, ‘if I can come to the game and I can get Shaq or I can get Draymond or Steph Curry or whoever to get mad at me and to say something back, he loses money. Hahaha.’ What’s the worst thing that may happen to this fan if I get into a screaming match with a fan, that he gets removed from his seat? The protection of the players went missing, and now they’re just taking it to another level."
Another layer to this issue is the attention these fans are rewarded with following altercations. One of the motivating factors behind, say, throwing a water bottle, dumping popcorn or even spitting on a player, is that it will make you famous -- albeit for all the wrong reasons.
"Not only is there no protection of players, but then you give all these guys face time," Green continued. "They’re on TNT, the same channel that we’re all on every day, they’re on ESPN, they’re getting their five, 10, 15 seconds of fame. The only punishment is that they cannot come back to the game. Who f---ing cares!?
“What it’s going to take, is somebody getting their ass kicked, and then they’ll respond.”
The behavior of some fans this postseason has been unacceptable, and the league needs to be working to address these issues moving forward.