- Wizards guard Isaiah Thomas decided to confront a pair of hecklers during a game Saturday night in Philadelphia.
- Thomas was polite and respectful, but the refs ejected him from the game. The NBA suspended him for two additional games, as well.
- But the NBA should have hit him with a harder suspension to discourage other players from doing the same thing.
It is not uncommon for the NBA and every other sports league to forget something about the players that make up their leagues. Fans often forget that very same thing all too often as well.
While we often treat the athletes we idolize as if they are superhuman, they aren’t.
They are humans that deserve respect—which was all Isaiah Thomas wanted Saturday night in Philadelphia when he, David Bertans, and the rest of the Washington Wizards were facing the 76ers. So, when two young fans thought they would make some lewd gestures at him and yell obscenities, he decided to tell them how he felt about it.
I Just Wanted A Frosty
When we typically hear about this kind of thing, we expect to see a video of a player charging into the stands and throwing haymakers. But that was not the case here. Instead, Thomas handled the situation in a calm and respectful a manner:
Isaiah Thomas goes into the Philadelphia stands to confront a fan. He was ejected for this.
— Samuel J. Robinson (@samueljrob) December 22, 2019
After the game, Thomas described what happened to the media:
"A fan has both of his middle fingers up, and said 'F— you, b—-' three times. … I go in the stands to confront him. … His response was, 'I'm sorry. I just wanted a Frosty.'"
Isaiah Thomas explained why he went into the stands to confront a Sixers fan. pic.twitter.com/ZpYrmEHZKz
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) December 22, 2019
It is hard to find fault with how Thomas handled the situation. He was calm, polite, and respectful even though the fans involved were anything but. Many have since gone on Twitter to applaud him for his demeanor, professionalism, and maturity.
But the refs ejected him from the game, and the NBA suspended him for two more, anyway. Well—heck, if he didn’t handle the situation right, then how should hecklers like these guys be dealt with?
NBA Should Have Hit Isaiah Thomas Harder
The fans responsible have since received a one-year ban from the Wells Fargo Center, and the NBA handed Thomas a two-game suspension without pay (costing him $32,000).
Thomas shared how he felt about the suspension on social media but came to his senses and deleted the comment:
Players are never supposed to enter the stands just like fans are never supposed to step on the court. Does that mean it is okay for the fans to act in such a manner as these two did? Absolutely not.
But there are security guards on hand to deal with unruly fans.
It’s not like these are the first fans to curse at an NBA player during a game—it’s called heckling. This heckling was inappropriate, but it was still just taunting and not the worst thing fans have done. There was no need for a face to face confrontation.
But he’s a man, and they disrespected him. He is also a man that wants to earn a living playing a game. If the rules of the game mandate that he, as a player, never enters the stands during a game, then he never enters the stands during a game.
That is if he wants to continue to make a living playing a game.
Thomas is lucky the suspension is only two games. By only suspending him for two games, the NBA may be creating another problem.
Dealing with the jerks that love to heckle can’t be fun. There are bound to be a few guys that will find risking a two-game suspension acceptable. Shutting down a heckler could be that satisfying to them.
They may even take things a step or two further. To them, a four or five-game suspension could be worth it.
To keep this from becoming a common occurrence, the NBA needed to hit Thomas hard. But the slap on the wrist they gave him is only going to encourage other players to do the same (or worse).