INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – The NBA is cracking down on bad behavior and racist taunts. The change is not aimed at the players though, it’s the fans.
This comes after several high-profile incidents last year. Toronto Raptors player Kyle Lowry was shoved by a Golden State Warriors part owner in the NBA Finals last season.
Fans in both Salt Lake City and Boston were banned for their racist taunts aimed at players.
While die-hard Pacers fans tell News 8 they haven’t see much behavior like that in Indiana, they’re glad the NBA is going to a zero-tolerance policy.
The Pacers open their season at the Fieldhouse Wednesday night, facing the Detroit Pistons.
“I’m pretty excited,” said fan Eugene Dooley.
“That’s my favorite team,” adds fan Damiah Dumas.
A sign inside the concourse spells out that no weapons, laser pens or pass-outs are allowed. Now, it could add a part about no abusive or hateful behavior either.
The NBA is toughening its code of conduct for fans nationwide this season, especially when it comes to abusive or hateful behavior for those sitting close to the players.
“They’ve got to get better at that. That’s a real issue,” said fan Bob Rose.
“They should have done it a long time ago,” adds Daisha Lasley.
For fans that have seen many a game here, topped by Dooley who said he’s seen “one hundred plus games,” they haven’t seen much that crosses the line.
“Not here, but on TV, yeah,” said Dumas.
“Indiana fans do a great job of supporting the players. I don’t see them getting out of hand like when I go to travel to other cities,” Dooley said.
The people News 8 talked to don’t think spending thousands of dollars on a seat gives one the right to say anything they want.
“Absolutely not,” Dooley said. “You have to be courteous of others and be respectful of one another.”
“You never know how the other person feels. Everybody has feelings too,” Lasley said.
In this case, it involves the feelings of both the players the taunts and language is directed at, as well as the other men, women and children who paid money to come to the game.
Some violators in other places have been banned for a year already. At least two have been banned for life.
But that’s not a problem for die-hard Pacers fans.
“A lifetime ban is important because we need to respect others,” Dooley said.
“It can bring more fans in if people are not being ignorant and being rude to the players,” Dumas added.
The NBA won’t say how many fans were ejected last season, but it more than doubled.
As a result, the fan code of conduct will be announced and promoted more times throughout the game. Going forward, fans who are believed to be involved will be removed from the area while officials investigate so that others nearby will be more comfortable to speak up.
Plus, season ticket holders have been warned they could lose their tickets if they give them to someone who engages in bad behavior.
The NBA said anything that isn’t basketball related could be investigated, including sexist language, remarks about a player’s family, test scores and LGBTQ.
It’s not just an NBA problem.
Other sports are dealing with their own issues. For example, the Atlanta Braves ended their tomahawk chop during the baseball playoffs this year because of concerns from an opposing player who is Native American.
There is a little bit of irony though.
The Pacers first opponent, the Detroit Pistons, was their opponent 15 years ago for the ‘Malice at the Palace’ incident which still brings up bad memories of a lost championship season. Fans hope this season is the one get the Blue and Gold over the top.