It was nearly five years ago, but the altercation is still fresh in the mind of Sixers fans.
It was the Double Bird Heard ‘Round the World.
A fan in the front row jumped up to give Russell Westbrook, then of the Oklahoma City Thunder, a pair of extended middle fingers. On a nationally televised game, no less.
Not the finest moment for the Sixers fanbase.
Predictably, the moment went viral, and most of the rest of the sporting world rushed to the defense of poor Westbrook, being accosted by one of those Philly fans. Here, the man became an instant hero.
Dr. Richard Harkaway, a urologist and Sixers season ticket holder, is the man behind famous – or infamous, depending on whose side you’re on – gesture.
Westbrook is now a Washington Wizard and facing the Sixers in the playoffs. Harkaway has total recall of the incident at the Sixers’ 2016-17 season opener.
“We stood up and booed, and he said ‘Sit down’ and made a comment about either me or (my wife) – she thinks it was me, I think it was her – that was weight-related, and I lost it,” he told NBC10’s John Clark. “He said ‘Sit down, you fat B.’”
Harkaway was ejected from that game and apologized for his indiscretion that night, but he says not many locals held it against him.
“Most of them loved it,” Harkaway said. “I mean, it’s Philadelphia.”
He said that he’s recognized by Sixers fans who ask for pictures, requesting that Harkaway flash his now-famous digits for the camera.
There’s even a groundswell of fans who want Harkaway to ring the ceremonial bell before a Sixers playoff game. But alas, the good doctor shares his season tickets and will not be attending any games against the Wizards. So no reunion with his archrival Westbrook.
Harkaway describes his run-in with the Wizards star as an isolated incident for him, but not for Westbrook.
“I’ve had exactly one altercation with an athlete, this one,” he said. “He’s had over a dozen. I don’t know that I’m the problem. I’m not proud that I lost control like that. ... I do root against him because he made trouble for me. But I don’t hate him as a person at all."