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Russell Westbrook and Bradley Beal showed us the good and bad of fan interaction in the NBA

Russell Westbrook and Bradley Beal showed us the good and bad of fan interaction in the NBA

So apparently, some NBA fans need a little refresher on how to act at a game. 

Monday night, we saw two very different dynamics with the player/fan relationship in the NBA.

The good, was Bradley Beal taking over another fourth quarter against the Kings and celebrating with Wizards fans.

The bad, was Russell Westbrook again being baited into a confrontation with Jazz fans. 

If you have courtside seats, or are even in ear-shot of the players, let's try and remember what you should do, and not do at an NBA game.

DO: High fives when requested.

Clearly interacting with Beal after a big shot is the way to go. 

DON'T: Be that Jazz fan. 

Saying something that could in any way make you look like a racist moron or just a clueless adult that doesn't understand making things personal is over the line. 

According to Westbrook, the man told him to "get down on your knees like you're used to." Westbrook considered that comment to be "racial" and "inappropriate."

The fan, 45-year-old Shane Keisel, told ESPN that he didn't use profanity at Westbrook or say anything inappropriate.  He was seated in the third row on the baseline near the Thunder bench, and said that video you just saw was shot by a fan in the first row. Keisel said he sent the video to "friends that are in the social media business" because he wanted the exchange to be seen.

Of course he did. He got his platform and got to claim he was a victim. 

Which brings me to another thing to stay away from...

Don't: Touch Russell Westbrook, or any player 

Remember this shocked kid earlier in the season?

Look, it's obvious fans realize they can get a reaction from Westbrook, it's been happening Kevin Durant forever too. 

Far too many fans think because they can tweet someone they see on TV, that they can yell the same thing from the stands, and they'll get away with it. These are the same people that say if they were in the middle of a bank robbery they'd "take that gun right out of the guy's hands and stop the whole thing". They have muscles in their mind, but it's not the reality. 

We all know people like that. 

Talking trash is one thing, saying something that crosses the line, something you would never say to anyone's face if you met them at a bar, is the problem that continues to plague the NBA and fans need to stop being stupid. 

Even the NFL has had issues with this, like when Marcus Peters went into the stands to confront a fan at a Rams game this past season. 

The last thing we want is another Vernon Maxwell incident or Malice at the Palace

Yes, Westbrook can be overly bitter, just like plenty of other athletes. Yes, he's made himself a target for taunting from fans because of his consistent overreactions.

He also should not have said anything about the fan's wife.

But that doesn't mean fans don't have room in the trash talking department.

Here's another to add to the list:

DO: Tell a player he can't shoot or took the easy way to a title.

Those are well within the realm of "just ignore it" noise from fans. Sorry Durant, you signed with the Warriors, that comes with the decision.

Sorry Russell, your shot has failed you this season, fans are just giving you the facts. 

Saying something about someone's family, or race, or making it personal, is where we need to draw the line.

Sure, it's impossible to stop this completely. But the league needs to work more aggressively to take charge of these types of situations as they develop before they have a much bigger problem on their hands again.

Players also need to realize when you're on the road, the fans don't like you, and you need to be more selective with what you react to. 


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Why (and how) your NBA Cares Community Assist Award vote should go to Bradley Beal


Why (and how) your NBA Cares Community Assist Award vote should go to Bradley Beal

Voting has officially begun for the season-long NBA Community Assist Award, and Wizards All-Star guard Bradley Beal is a finalist. 

Chosen by fans and an NBA executive panel, the award honors a player’s strong commitment to positively impacting his community through sustained efforts over the course of the season.

In December, Beal visited Ron Brown College Preparatory High school in D.C. to give away two pairs of shoes to every member of the JV and varsity basketball teams.

It didn't stop there. Beal took his role as a mentor to the next level by checking in with the kids multiple times a month to make sure they are on the right track in both athletics and their academic studies.

Later on in February, Beal invited 10 students from RBHS on a private tour of the National African-American History and Culture Museum.

The seven-year NBA veteran also made a point to donate game tickets to community groups and toys to the Salvation Army during the holiday season. 

Here's some key information about the voting process: 

  1. Voting begins: Wednesday, April 24th at 12:01 p.m.
  2. Voting ends: Sunday, May 5th at 11:59 p.m.
  3. How does voting work? Through the above date range, every tweet posted using both of the hashtags #BradleyBeal and #NBACommunityAssist counts as one vote.
  4. Retweets of tweets using the above hashtags also count as one vote

This all comes following another All-Star season that saw the 25-year-old finish with career-highs in points (25.6), rebounds (5.0), and assists (5.5). He played in all 82 regular-season games. 

The winning player will receive $25,000 to their charity of choice, a donation from the NBA and Kaiser Permanente.


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The next Damian Lillard will be drafted this June, Ja Morant

The next Damian Lillard will be drafted this June, Ja Morant

On Tuesday night, Portland guard Damian Lillard broke #NBATwitter with his 37-foot, series-clinching buzzer-beater against Oklahoma City. 

It's not the first time we've seen him do that, but it's by far the biggest impact his play has had on the NBA world to this point.

Fair or not, Lillard's image has always been the overlooked underdog.  Even after being named All-NBA First Team last season, it's rare you hear his name mentioned among the NBA's most popular players. 

That attitude is what fuels the Portland Trail Blazers though. It's what the entire roster uses as motivation every game. It's a mindset every team in the NBA should be emulating too, and it starts with their star. 

If you're an organization in the middle of a rebuild, you should be looking no further than Ja Morant if you want this same organizational mindset going forward.

Ja Morant is the next Dame Lillard.

Ja Morant is going to be a star. 

The Wizards are one of those teams, and with the NBA Draft Lottery coming May 14, if the ping pong balls land in their favor, Morant needs to be their pick at No. 2 in the NBA Draft.

Don't worry about any other point guards on the roster and what that means. Don't pass on Morant.

Obviously, No. 1 would mean Zion Williamson, and anything past No. 2 means both are probably off the board, so we'll stick with that No. 2 pick in this case.

Both Lillard and Morant come from small schools in Weber State and Murray State, respectively. Both were under-recruited with Lillard being just a two-star and Morant not even being ranked by recruiting services ESPN, 247Sports, or Rivals.

Lillard was the better three-point shooter coming out of college, but Morant still has range, and can jump out of the gym.

Neither has a ton of size (Lillard 6-2, 185 lbs., and Morant 6-3, 175), but both aren't scared of the spotlight, and step on the court ready to eat the other team alive.

In a star-driven league based so much around player's brands and recognizability, there's something to be said for the guys that have the talent, but haven't been given the stage to show it yet. You get that combination of "chip on their shoulder" mentality with the star potential and work ethic biggy backing it. 

One of the best movie lines ever spoken was in Remember the Titans when Julius tells Gerry "attitude reflects leadership", and it's a mantra any successful team, business, volunteer group, club, or literally any collection of people should follow. 

If you want the right attitude in your locker room, you want leaders that can create it. 

Morant and Lillard share that same leadership, and the results are there to prove it.