LeBron James After Fan Dumps Popcorn on Russell Westbrook: #ProtectOurPlayers

Paul KasabianFeatured Columnist IIMay 27, 2021

Washington Wizards' Russell Westbrook reacts as he dunks the ball during the first half of Game 2 in a first-round NBA basketball playoff series against the Philadelphia 76ers, Wednesday, May 26, 2021, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
AP Photo/Matt Slocum

A fan dumped popcorn on injured Washington Wizards point guard Russell Westbrook as he was being helped to the locker room during Game 2 of his team's first-round Eastern Conference playoff series against the host Philadelphia 76ers on Wednesday.

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

Russ got heated after a fan threw popcorn at him pic.twitter.com/XyMRUxUVwc

After the incident, Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James took to social media to speak out:

LeBron James @KingJames

By the way WE AS THE PLAYERS wanna see who threw that popcorn on Russ while he was leaving the game tonight with a injury!! There’s cameras all over arenas so there’s no excuse! Cause if the 👟 was on the other 🦶🏾.🎥 #ProtectOurPlayers

The 76ers defeated the Wizards 120-95 in Philadelphia's Wells Fargo Center to take a 2-0 series lead.

After the game, Westbrook spoke with reporters about the incident.

"I wouldn't come up to me on the street and throw popcorn on my head, because you know what happens. ... In these arenas, you gotta start protecting the players. We'll see what the NBA does."

Westbrook also added: "This s--t is out of hand."

Valerie Camillo, who is the Wells Fargo Center's President of Business Operations, issued this postgame statement:

Malika Andrews @malika_andrews

Statement from the President of Business Ops of the Wells Fargo Center on the Westbrook/fan popcorn incident: “This was classless, unacceptable behavior, and we’re not going to tolerate it...” https://t.co/xfyJBr9qR1 pic.twitter.com/2z296ay3HT

As The Athletic's Fred Katz noted, a fan in a Philadelphia home arena has acted inappropriately toward Westbrook in the past:

Fred Katz @FredKatz

Not the first time a Philadelphia fan had an issue with Russell Westbrook. On opening day four years ago, a urologist (yes, he was a urologist) seated courtside jumped out his seat and flipped Russ double-birds right in his face, which led to this moment.<br><br>The fan was ejected. pic.twitter.com/dNMRxwF2Ei

He's also notably had issues with Utah Jazz fans.

A fan was banned for life after calling Westbrook, then of the Oklahoma City Thunder, a racial slur during Utah's 2018 playoff series.

Eric Woodyard @E_Woodyard

To Russell Westbrook’s defense, here is even further proof of his previous interactions with Utah Jazz fans. In this video, @russwest44 is called a “boy” by a Jazz fan ahead of Game 4 of OKC’s first-round playoff series against Utah on April 23, 2018 at Vivint Arena. pic.twitter.com/lc6slA7fTo

Two games later, Westbrook slapped a patron's hand after the fan got in his personal space with a cellphone camera to take video.

Then, in March 2019, this happened.

Eric Woodyard @E_Woodyard

Five Utah Jazz fans received "warning cards" that their comments, gestures and/or behaviors directed at players were in violation of the NBA Fan Code of Conduct, but were able to return to their seats after their altercation with Russell Westbrook.

The Jazz banned that fan.

As for Westbrook's health, the 2016-17 NBA MVP suffered an ankle injury.

"We'll see. ... Hurt it twice in a short amount of time. We'll see what happens," Westbrook said.

Game 3 of the Wizards-76ers series will occur Saturday at 7 p.m. ET in Washington, D.C.'s Capital One Arena.