Hawks fuming after Knicks fan spat on Trae Young
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Knicks ban fan after video shows him spitting on Trae Young
The Hawks are spitting mad.
A Knicks fan who was captured on video spitting on Hawks star Trae Young during the fourth quarter of Game 2 of their playoff series has been banned indefinitely from Madison Square Garden, according to a statement released by the Knicks. The 76ers ejected and banned a fan who dumped popcorn on Wizards star Russell Westbrook during their series.
“The response by the Knicks banning him, I hope that lasts a long time, if not forever,” Hawks guard Kevin Huerter said. “Same with the fan in Philly. These fans, if you take away the barriers and take away security and you are face-to-face with an NBA player and you think you are going to do something like that, I doubt it’s going to go your way. People have to remember that.”
The MSG crowd chanted obscenities at Young throughout the first two games of the series and he seemed to relish his role as the new villain. But there’s a line not to cross.
“We, in our society now, feel we can do and say anything we want,” Hawks coach Nate McMillan said. “I think some people feel because they paid for a ticket they have the right to say and do what they want. It doesn’t give you the right to do that. You see this all over the place. Things that people say to each other and the disrespect that people show each other. It’s not just something that’s happening in sports.”
Hawks forward John Collins has “gotten into fights” during youth basketball games all the way through high school over spitting incidents.
“It’s unacceptable, to be nice,” Collins said. “I wouldn’t say I had the easiest upbringing as a child. I saw some other tough kids in my life who thought spitting was cool and we tussled over it because my mom raised me as a young man to not accept B.S. – and that’s total B.S. to me.”
The Knicks’ statement only identified the fan as a non-season-ticket holder and apologized to the Hawks and to Young.
“This was completely unacceptable and will not be tolerated in our venue,” the statement read. “We have turned the information over to the appropriate authorities.”
Young was not available Thursday for comment.
“I have spoken to Trae about it,” McMillan said. “He was just shocked. His focus and his attention is on the game, but he did see that and was really surprised that something like that happened.”
The Hawks’ leading scorer tweeted a video at rapper 50 Cent, who was sitting in the vicinity of the loogie, with the commentary “Damn … Crazy! @50cent y’all good?!” and three laughing emojis. The saliva seemed to hit 50 Cent’s girlfriend, fitness influencer and model Cuban Link.
A senior law enforcement source told The Post that Young and Link both declined police involvement and will not be filing charges.
“New York did what they should’ve done in that situation, stepped up and took action,” McMillan said. “It’s uncalled for and shouldn’t happen.”
The 6-foot-7 Huerter, a native of Clifton Park outside of Albany, said his father and other family members were identifiable Hawks fans in the Game 2 crowd.
“They definitely had some words, had some boos,” he said. “Kind of what they expected going to an away game like that with that intensity. But they are all good. They are big guys – bigger than I am – so they’ll be fine.”
Two incidents on the same night raised flashbacks of then-Pacers forward Ron Artest charging into the stands to fight a Pistons fan who threw a drink at him in 2004, and the larger question of whether the NBA does enough to ensure player safety.
“I feel like we definitely are protected and we definitely have infrastructure in place for us to be safe,” Collins said. “But you can only go so far as to what another individual has planned. You can’t read minds, right?”
Huerter suggested only season-ticket holders – with more accountability and trust – be given courtside access, but the 76ers fan was a season-ticket holder.
“A lot of this is how they handle situations like this and the response, I think, speaks just as loudly as the prevention,” Huerter said. “Us players, we want fans in the game. We want them close to the court. It’s the atmosphere we grew up dreaming about and wanting to play in.
“If you lay a pretty heavy precedent and ban these people for life from these arenas if they are going to do something like that, I would hope people think twice. There’s no really no other response warranted, in my opinion.”
— Additional reporting by Justin Terranova and Joe Marino
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