Isaiah Thomas was ejected in the fourth quarter of the Wizards loss to the Sixers on Saturday after he entered the stands to confront a heckler.
After splitting a pair of free throws to deny Philly fans a free Frosty from Wendy’s, a fan apparently yelled “f*ck you, b*tch” at Thomas three times for costing them free ice cream, which is an excessive reaction to losing out on saving literally one dollar on fast food ice cream. When timeout was called, Thomas calmly strolled into the stands to have a chat with the fan, explaining why that disrespect can’t stand.
While an understandable response from Thomas, it’s one the league frowns upon as they are extremely protective of the invisible barrier between fans and players in the post-Malice in the Palace era. The two fans involved were banned by the Sixers for a year, while the season ticket holder that gave them the tickets had his seats revoked and refunded for the rest of the season. However, Thomas didn’t avoid further punishment as the league announced on Sunday evening that he would be suspended two games.
The league’s statement. Note the highlighted part: pic.twitter.com/FUVZp8eHWP
— Candace Buckner (@CandaceDBuckner) December 23, 2019
That’s not a tremendous surprise, given how sensitive the league is to players entering the stands, even if Thomas went in calmly and without trying to provoke anything. About a half hour before the official announcement was made, Thomas seemed to get the news.
— Isaiah Thomas (@isaiahthomas) December 22, 2019
He confirmed later that this was indeed his official statement and response to the league giving him further punishment.
Thomas’ frustration is understandable, as he surely feels by going to talk to the fan as he did he handled it well — and to be clear, that’s as well as you can do it if you are going to go into the stands. The problem, from the NBA’s side, is that they don’t want any players going into the stands for any reason beyond chasing a ball into the crowd. If a player has a problem with a fan, they want them to point it out to security and allow it to be handled that way. That’s the message being sent here, even if it’s one Thomas disagrees with (and surely other players will too).