Isaiah Thomas had to know this was coming.
As justified as he may have been — a fan flipped him off and said, “F*** you b****” three times — the second Thomas walked into the stands a significant penalty was going to rain down on him. The league still has scars from the Malace in the Palace, and if a player goes into the stands to confront a fan there will be consequences.
For Thomas, the consequence is a two-game suspension. Thomas’ reaction on Twitter was NSFW.
— Isaiah Thomas (@isaiahthomas) December 22, 2019
It’s easy to see why Thomas feels this way. The fan crossed the line — and has now been barred from the building for a year — and Thomas feels he had to confront said fan. That’s an understandable reaction. Thomas sees this simply as him defending himself.
Players can’t go into the stands to confront a fan. Period. End of story. It’s a bad look for the league, and it opens the door to much worse things (what if the next fan doesn’t back down). The league came down hard on Thomas — this suspension is going to cost him $32,000 — but the league wanted to make an example of him. The NBA wants players to point out fans crossing the line to security, then that fan can be removed (something that doesn’t always happen, but that’s another discussion). Players confronting fans can lead to some ugly incidents.
Thomas may not like it, but he’s the example. He’s been around the league, he knew where the line was, and he crossed it. That comes with a price.