Dos and Don'ts for NBA Fans at the Arena

Sean Hojnacki@@TheRealHojnackiFeatured ColumnistMay 10, 2013

Dos and Don'ts for NBA Fans at the Arena

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    Decades ago, George Carlin perfectly and hilariously delineated the different temperaments of football and baseball.

    But what about basketball?

    Well, that's somewhere in the middle. Basketball fandom doesn't quite approach the violent, frenzied fervor of the average football fan, but it also falls far short of the reserved, more relaxed attitudes found in the stands around the diamond. 

    Fans attend games to have a good time, and that's precisely what happens for the most part. But as always, a few rotten apples can spoil the bunch.

    I'm not talking about the mentally deranged who wander onto the court from time to time. Perhaps they're merely searching for the merch stand with the foam fingers.

    I'm referring to those fans who make everyone else looks bad with their uncouth infractions, both big and small. Those are the don'ts. But to avoid being a Debbie Downer, I'll also identify some positive ways to conduct yourself at an NBA game.

    So here's my twist on the old Animaniacs "Good Idea, Bad Idea" for attending an NBA game.

    And if you're ever unsure whether what you're about to do might be inappropriate, just remember that there are almost certainly some kids within earshot.

Don't: Scream All Game Long If You Have a Ridiculously Shrill Voice

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    Passionately cheering for your team is the whole point of paying to attend an NBA playoff game. But are there guidelines for cheering?


    Chanting, clapping, shouting, yelling and stomping are all acceptable forms of behavior. If you need noise-making assistance, many teams distribute "thunder sticks" which double as a nice distraction for the away team.

    But screeching should be kept to an absolute minimum, especially if you have a shrill, irritating voice. How TNT producers didn't promptly relocate this woman to a soundproof suite, I don't know.

    It very nearly ruined what was otherwise a tremendously exciting Game 1 between the Golden State Warriors and San Antonio Spurs. She loosed her nails-on-chalkboard cry for all of the fourth quarter's final 20 seconds (see above) and continued on for the rest of the contest. And this game went into two overtimes!

    But I won't pile any more scorn on this poor shrieker. She has already been lambasted by Yahoo! and Bleacher Report, among others. Her horrible song also spawned it's own Twitter account and multiple people claiming responsibility.

Do: Chant the Name of Role Players

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    During the fourth quarter of Game 2, fans at Madison Square Garden sang out "Pab-Lo, Pab-Lo" to honor the efficient and effective play of 35-year-old Argentine rookie Pablo Prigioni.

    After starting the year as a bit player, Prigioni entered the starting lineup late in the season and played a key role in helping the New York Knicks piece together a 13-game winning streak.

    Chanting the name of non-stars like Prigioni is always a good move, as it shows intelligent and ardent fandom. 

Don't: Flip the Bird in an Opposing Player's Face After a Blowout Victory

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    Just because you have enough money to sit within earshot of the players does not give you the right to act like an obscene, ignorant savage. 

    This woman should be ashamed of herself for multiple reasons but especially for this outrageously rude action. Ihosvani Rodriguez of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel did a little digging and identified the bird-flipper as Filomena Tobias, and she's got quite a history.

    Of course, B/R was all over it as well.

    Comedian Louis C.K. says that we all tend to act with a different set of values when we're driving a car. Well, going to an NBA game can be added to this list. To paraphrase Louis, you would never walk up to someone in the street and flip the bird in their face. 

    And yet, when you put on some white pants and head down to a basketball game, you can unleash all the bile stored up from your vacuous existence on Joakim Noah.

    Disgraceful. You can heckle and boo, but be reasonable, people! Let's keep the mothers and middle fingers out of this.

Do: Cheer Sarcastically When There's Nothing Left to Do but Laugh

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    In The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Napoleon, Karl Marx wrote that history repeats itself, "first as tragedy, then as farce."

    The first dozen times, you can lustily boo poor shot selection, or shabby free-throw shooting or careless ball-handling. But when these things persist, it's hard to jeer every single time. Thank Jeebus for sarcasm.

    That's why when DeAndre Jordan actually makes a free throw, it's OK to unleash an unusually boisterous cheer. When J.R. Smith starts the game by missing his first 10 shots, clap wildly when he finally drains a fallaway jumper.

    The laughter will lighten your spirits and diffuse your bubbling rage.

Don't: Throw Cups of Liquid at the Players

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    I don't think I really need to elaborate on this, but as you no doubt recall, the "Malice at the Palace" was sparked when Detroit Pistons fan John Green threw his cup of Diet Coke at Metta World Peace (then known as Ron Artest). 

    Players went into the stands, punches were exchanged, suspensions handed down and criminal charges filed.

    And bizarrely, according to Brian Manzullo of the Detroit Free Press, Green and World Peace are now friends. Don't take this as encouragement, as they merely found common ground in their checkered pasts.

    It was truly a disgrace. Don't throw liquids at people except in a sanctioned water-balloon fight.

Do: Practice Your Half-Court Shot

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    Because you never never know.

    Actually, this guy does not look like he practiced his half-court shot at all, judging by that windmilled 48-foot hook shot.

    And make sure you don't step over the line

Don't: Confuse Heckling with Hate Speech

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    If you are a hateful person who harbors racist thoughts and bigoted opinions, you have two choices: stay home, or come to the game and keep your mouth shut.

    Back in 2006, an Orlando Magic fan named Hooman Hamzehloui had his season tickets revoked and got banned from the arena for calling Dikembe Mutombo a "monkey" during a preseason game (via

    This is by no means the sole incident of racist heckling in recent NBA history, but it serves as the most high-profile story. Racist fans have become the bane of European soccer leagues, and this sort of behavior should be called out and shamed anytime it occurs.

Do: Act Goofy, Dance Poorly, Dress Oddly and Have Fun

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    Hockey has Charlie's fantastic "Green Man" from It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, but NBA fans are no slouches.

    You're spending your own hard-earned money to attend these games, so win or lose, remember that you're there to have a good time and enjoy yourself.

    Know your limits and take it easy with the fermented beverages, but don't be afraid to make a spectacle with some good-natured fun.

    Start a dance contest in your section during TV timeouts. Dress up like a fictional superhero embodying an audacious made-up mascot. Dance to the blaring assault of arena music. Have fun!

Don't: Think You're Too Cool for the Playoff Shirts

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    You are all unique...just like everybody else. 

    Now put on your color-coordinating freebie t-shirt or prepare to be heckled and derided by your fellow fans. Not all franchises go for this gimmick, but if your team does, boycotting the t-shirt is tantamount to rooting for the opposing team.

    And you're not that fashionable anyway.

    It's the playoffs. Wear the swag!