NBA ready to deal with unruly fans

MIAMI (AP) — At Miami’s first preseason game of the year, something caught Heat coach Erik Spoelstra’s attention as he stood in his customary spot between his team’s bench and the scorer’s table.

Fans, he noticed, were just a couple feet away again.

“Front-row seats that were filled,” Spoelstra said. “We haven’t had that for a year and a half.”

It’s a welcome sign toward a return to normalcy. The NBA is welcoming their fans back — with hopes everyone plays by the rules again.

The league is expecting full arenas when the season starts next week, and keeping everyone — fans, players and coaches — safe remains an utmost priority. Mindful of high-profile incidents of unruly fan behavior in recent years, the league has partnered with the National District Attorneys Association to connect franchises with prosecutors who can serve as points of contact with teams when misconduct occurs.

The hope is simple, that any fan who decides to be unruly understands that, if caught, consequences will be swift and severe, as was the case in last season’s playoffs when Brooklyn’s Kyrie Irving had a bottle thrown at his head in Boston and Atlanta’s Trae Young was spit at in New York.

In both cases, the offending fan was found and banned from those respective arenas; charges were filed in the Boston case as well. And those weren’t the only cases last spring, either.


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