"In these arenas, you gotta start protecting the players," the athlete said of the incident after the game

By Ashley Boucher
May 27, 2021 12:39 AM
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russell westbrook
Russell Westbrook
| Credit: David Dow/getty

The Washington Wizards' game against the Philadelphia 76ers Wednesday night did not go well for guard Russell Westbrook.

Westbrook, 32, sustained an ankle injury during the fourth quarter of the game, and had to leave the court for medical attention. As he walked into the tunnel, a fan poured salt on his wound by dumping popcorn onto the athlete's head.

In video of the encounter, popcorn pours down from above Westbrook as he walks to the lockers. The athlete can be seen getting visibly upset, held back by security guards nearby as he lashed out.

"I wouldn't come up to me on the street and throw popcorn on my head, because you know what happens," Westbrook told reporters after the game, ESPN reported — which the Wizards ended up losing 120-95.

"In these arenas, you gotta start protecting the players. We'll see what the NBA does," he added.

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The Wells Fargo Center's president of business operations, Valeria Camillo, called the fan's behavior "classless" in a statement later Wednesday night.

"This was classless, unacceptable behavior, and we're not going to tolerate it at Wells Fargo Center," said Camillo's statement, shared on Twitter. "We're proud to have the most passionate fans in the country and the best home-court and home-ice advantage around, but this type of behavior has no place in our arena."

The fan was reportedly escorted out of the arena after the incident, but members of the NBA are hoping more will be done.

According to ESPN, Wizards coach Scott Brooks said that the person should be banned, while Wizards player Bradley Beal called their actions "disgusting."

LeBron James also expressed his support for Westbrook on social media Wednesday night.

"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!" James, 36, wrote on Twitter, adding, "Cause if the [shoe] was on the other [foot]. #ProtectOurPlayers."