The final few minutes of Thursday night’s game between the Denver Nuggets and Oklahoma City Thunder were insane. Just bonkers. So bonkers that the insanity couldn’t be contained by the final horn.
One second of game time after Paul George hit a step-back 3-pointer to tie the score at 124, Gary Harris sent Denver fans hope happy with a dagger at the buzzer.
But the action didn’t end there. With the Nuggets and their fans celebrating, one of those fans made his way a few steps out onto the court. A few steps away from Russell Westbrook. A few steps too far.
The fan yelled in Westbrook’s face. Westbrook gave him a one-hand shove to the chest.
Referees were quick to arrive on the scene to make sure nothing further came of the incident. So did Westbrook’s teammates. A credentialed employee also stepped in to get the fan off the court.
Westbrook will likely be criticized for the incident, especially because of his mercurial competitiveness and pugnacious reputation. But he shouldn’t be suspended. The fan, first and foremost, is at fault here. He has no right to scream in a player’s face and expect to be immune to retaliation. He should be the one getting punished.
And as TNT’s Reggie Miller said upon seeing the replay: “He should be happy he didn’t get knocked out.”
That loony fan is lucky Russell Westbrook didn’t go Jermaine O’Neal on him (frankly, the NBA is, too). Dude had no business walking up to a player after a game like that. That’s why I doubt the league hands out a serious punishment for that shove. Russ was protecting himself
Oh, and hopefully the Westbrook incident doesn’t distract from the game. Because again, it was wild. The Nuggets’ Twitter account summed up most fans’ feelings in the immediate aftermath: