The NBA got this one right.
Thursday night the Nuggets won in dramatic fashion, a Gary Harris game-winner at the buzzer. (Which the NBA said in the two-minute report was legal, Nikola Jokic “shuffles his feet, but does not leave the designated throw-in spot..within one step of his original position in either direction” and he got the pass off in 5.1 seconds.)
Celebrating after the make, one
drunk boisterous Nuggets fan went on to the court and got in Russell Westbrook‘s face as he tried to leave the floor. So Westbrook shoved him.
There is no discipline coming for Westbrook from the NBA for this, reports Royce Young of ESPN.
The NBA reviewed the incident but ultimately decided against punishment for Westbrook, as there was no aggression or engagement from the reigning MVP toward the fan. Unlike other player/fan interactions that have produced fines — like Stephen Curry throwing his mouthpiece into the crowd or Rodney Hood knocking a phone out of a fan’s hand while exiting the court — Westbrook didn’t step outside the playing floor to interact with the fan.
That is exactly the correct call by the NBA. Players can’t go into the stands to challenge fans, but conversely, fans can’t come on to the court. That’s the player’s space, and Westbrook was well within his rights even if he initiated the contact.
As for that fan, I hope he enjoyed his last Nuggets’ game in person.