An angry Philadelphia 76ers fan was ejected from the first game of the season for flashing two middle fingers at Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook after he was fouled on a breakaway in the first quarter.
A clip of the interaction garnered the attention of many online as it went viral. One set of eyes it caught were that of Detroit Lions linebacker Tahir Whitehead. Whitehead posted the video on his Instagram page while highlighting fans being “outta pocket” and pointing out that people shouldn’t “be surprised if another Ron Artest episode occurs soon.”
Whitehead joined The Jim Rome Show on Friday and talked about why he compared the Philadelphia incident to the ‘Malice at the Palace’ incident Artest was involved in 2004.
“They’re just getting comfortable to the point of they’re losing respect and forgetting that the guys that are out there on that field or on that court, outside of being in the NBA, MLB or NFL, they’re human beings,” Whitehead said. “That’s a real person behind that helmet in them jerseys, and sometimes, guys don’t always make the right decisions, as we see time and time again. And some of the fans are just losing sight of enjoying the game and they’re just doing too much, I believe.”
As for how the shocked Westbrook handled the livid fan with only a look of confusion, Whitehead just laughed.
“I’d play it the same way. Obviously right then and there, you’re in the game, that fan can’t do too much to you and on top of that, let security handle that,” Whitehead said. “I believe he got tossed from the game, and it’s just like ok, you want to pull some stuff like that. There are guidelines you have to abide by within the arenas and stadiums, and you get tossed for stuff like that. So I would have played it the same way, just stay cool, because at the end of the day, you still have a game to play.”
Whitehead talked about when a fan crosses the line.
“Obviously throwing drinks on people. Really like just flipping the bird and stuff like that,” Whitehead said about fans’ actions that go too far. “You can talk junk, all your trash, this and that, that’s within the realm, that’s normal, but when you start to use vocal language or like really just look like you’re ready to come out there and jump on the court and do something, it’s like alright, you have to sit down and just chill out and stay in your place.”