Cousins wants to call attention to the other side of interactions like those.
Cousins, via Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports:
“Oh, I’ve been called n—–,” he told Yahoo Sports in the latest Posted Up video podcast that will be released this week. “And it’s crazy because this has happened to me on a few occasions. I reported it to the league, and, you know, I may have said whatever I said back and I was still punished for it. But obviously it became a bigger issue when it was Russ [Westbrook], and he was still fined for it. I don’t really understand it. We’re the product. We push this league, so I don’t understand. When does our safety, when does it become important?”
When asked which cities he heard racial slurs, the nine-year veteran and four-time All-Star declined to answer. However, league sources told Yahoo Sports one of the incidents occurred in Sacramento.
“I don’t really want to [name cities or teams], because I’m not really trying to put a label on an entire fan base,” Cousins told Yahoo Sports. “There are ignorant individuals in every city. I’ll just put it like that. … [The league] tells you to ignore it, or whatever the case may be, but how many times am I supposed to ignore that. Me coming from where I come from [Mobile, Alabama], they lucky all they got was a response.”
Players would ignore out-of-line fans if the players believed teams were properly holding fans accountable. If teams removed fans who made racist and/or personal comments toward players, the players would let arena security handle it.
As is, players often feel they must take matters in their own hands to get a proper resolution.
This conversation is happening now only because Russell Westbrook got videoed vulgarly confronting a Jazz fan. Westbrook got fined for that, but overdue attention is being paid to fan-player interactions. The Jazz banned that fan from their arena, but they didn’t eject him from the game against the Thunder. Could they have investigated more quickly? They don’t deserve the benefit of the doubt. The Jazz just banned a fan who called Westbrook “boy” last year! The incident received attention now only because of Westbrook’s recent squabble with a Utah fan.
Players too often face racist and personal taunts. There’s no way to eliminate that. But teams must do better at punishing fans who act inappropriately.
The NBA should fine players who swear at fans. That’s bad for business and should be discouraged.
The key difference: The league is already on top of punishing players. Punishing misbehaving fans hasn’t taken enough of a priority.
The NBA should pay more attention to the root of some of these incidents. This isn’t just happening in a vacuum.