Russell Westbrook on Being Hit by Young Nuggets Fan: Fans Have 'Too Much Leeway'

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistFebruary 27, 2019

Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook looks at the scoreboard as time runs out in the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Denver Nuggets Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2019, in Denver. The Nuggets won 121-112. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
David Zalubowski/Associated Press

Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook called for better protection for NBA players from fans after a young fan hit him on the arm during Tuesday's 121-112 road loss to the Denver Nuggets.

As seen below, a fan stood up and tapped Westbrook on the arm during a stoppage in play:

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

Russ had to have a chat with the Nuggets fan real quick... https://t.co/5D9RzfK0Jt

According to Maddie Lee of The Oklahoman, Westbrook said:

"For all fans, though, there's too much leeway for the fans to be able to touch the players and get away with it, and then you can't react and do the things that we need to do to protect ourselves. ... But I can't do nothing. What am I going to do, hop in the stands? But there has to be some type of rule or some type of boundaries set that you can't allow that."

Westbrook has had no shortage of run-ins with fans over the past year or so, which likely played into his frustration.

Last February, a fan walked onto the court after a game in Denver, no less, and got in Westbrook's face. He, in turn, pushed the fan.

Then, during OKC's first-round playoff loss to the Utah Jazz, Westbrook swiped at a fan who was recording him on a phone as he walked to the locker room.

Tuesday's situation ended up being more innocent by comparison, but Westbrook added: "He [the kid] hit me, so I told his dad, 'Be careful, man. You can't have your son just hitting random people.' I don't know him, he don't know me. So, just letting him know, 'You've just got to control your kids.'"

Aside from fan-related issues, the 2017 MVP and eight-time All-Star is having another strong season with averages of 22.5 points, 11.3 rebounds and 10.9 assists per game, which has him in position to average a triple-double for the third consecutive campaign.

Also, despite the loss, the Thunder sit third in the Western Conference at 38-22, behind only the Golden State Warriors and Nuggets.