My team is 2-6 to start the new season. And as it turns out, it's time for a small rant on this blog. But it's not about the team's on court performance. And this is not intended to get anyone in trouble. It's a rant; that's it.
I believe the Washington Wizards have a fan problem. I've written about that issue twice in this calendar year, once to point out the issue and offer a potential solution and once just last month to encourage Wizards fans to boo a specific player on the opponent's team during big games. Based on the amount of people (I guess with the exception of last night's game against the Cleveland Cavaliers) and the amount of noise (including last night's game) in Verizon Center during our first five home games this year, I continue to believe I am correct.
For my part, I continue to show up game after game wearing Wizards apparel and making noise to encourage the home team and boo the visitors just like I've been doing for almost 20 years since I moved to the Washington area. I continued to do this last night during the Cavaliers game when I was asked to do something surprising by our section's usher: please make less noise. Apparently someone had complained about me and my friend Mike and all the noise we were making. In 16 prior seasons as a season ticket holder mostly attending 35-41 regular season home games (I split the first two seasons with someone else) and the five games this year, this has never happened to me. And it's honestly concerning.
Now, I don't believe fans at NBA games have the right to say whatever they want. I believe swearing; obvious intoxication; making comments related to race, gender, sexual orientation or disability; and directly engaging with other fans in hostile behavior is in appropriate and should be cautioned before removal from the arena. I believe that the NBA's fans are generally speaking the most diverse, most sophisticated and most respectful of any fans in the four major sports. I've seen fights in the stands at the few hockey games and football games (I don't really go to that many baseball games) I've attended. In all the NBA games I've sat through in DC or elsewhere, I've never seen a fight and I can count on one hand the number of times I've seen someone removed from Verizon Center.
There are a couple of things that concern me about last night's admonishment from our usher. First, we were not swearing, directly or indirectly engaging with other fans or displaying any of the behaviors I listed in the paragraph above. We weren't even standing up. I have engaged with other teams' fans before at Verizon Center in both friendly and sometimes less friendly conversations. In most all cases, the engagement here has started with the other party.
Second, when I told our usher that we were just cheering, weren't swearing and generally weren't doing anything wrong, we were told "I know." Well, if you know that we aren't doing anything wrong, why don't you tell those people that are complaining that we are well within our rights to cheer on the home team and boo the opposition.
Who knows what pushed these folks that complained about us over the edge. It might have been the "WAAAAAHHHH!!!!" noises I made after LeBron James grabbed his lower back after a foul call right about the time we were told to be quiet(er) and the time I took the picture above. If it was that, I think I should be able to make those kinds of noises, no matter how loud I am. Or maybe it was my clapping which is sometimes very loud and which I have been asked twice by fans (I'm not kidding) to tone down over the last decade or so (once at VC and once in Chicago's United Center). Whatever it was, I don't believe I should have been cautioned for it and I'm going to continue to root, root, root for the home team. That's probably enough on this subject for now. The team's in Chicago tonight. Go Wizards!