DETROIT (CBS Detroit) Apparently, there’s such a thing as going too far when heckling players on an opposing NBA team.
There are reports on Twitter of fans being issued bright red or yellow cards from the NBA when they became “overenthusiastic” — warning them to pipe down during the game or get removed.
Most recently, a fan at the game between the Detroit Pistons and the Milwaukee Bucks said he got a warning card from officials at the Harris Bradley Center in Milwaukee.
“Seeing the matchup and the location, it’s likely the case of a Milwaukee local heckling Brandon Jennings, the former Bucks guard who departed on bad terms,” wrote Ben Sin on an SI blog.
Others wrote on social media that fans were warned for heckling Andre Drummond at the freethrow line.
Officials for the Bucks denied any knowledge of such cards; the Pistons spokesman said it’s not something he would comment on.
But the NBA sent out a Tweet saying it’s a policy that’s been in place since 2005. That’s the year of the infamous “Malice at the Palace” brawl, where players ran into the stands to battle with heckling fans, throwing punches in an all-out donnybrook.
With fans suddenly posting photos of their warning cards, why is the NBA worried about “verbal abuse” of players? It’s certainly not because of the overwhelming size of the crowds.
Time Magazine reported the Pistons averaged 13,272 tickets sold per home game last year — in the 21,000-seat Palace of Auburn Hills. The Bucks, which had the fourth-worst attendance in the league, were holding promotions in 2012 like $1 seats for kids to try to fill the stadium.
Reached for comment, NBA Senior Vice President for Basketball Communications Tim Frank wrote in an email “… I wouldn’t even waste your time on a story … old news.”
Asked about how many such warnings are handed out, and who hands them out, Frank replied: “No idea on a number and it’s done by arena security.”