The NBA is enacting a zero-tolerance fan code of conduct in 2019-20 in an effort to curb abusive and hateful behavior toward players after the number of courtside ejections more than doubled last season, NBA chief security officer Jerome Pickett told The Associated Press' Tim Reynolds.
"We've added any sexist language or LGBTQ language, any denigrating language in that way, anything that is non-basketball-related," said Pickett, who is also the league's executive vice president. "So, 'Your mother' comments, talking about your family, talking about test scores, anything non-basketball-related, we've added that in as well as being something that we will go and pull a fan out of the seat and investigate what happened."
Several fans sitting in close proximity to the court were punished severely last season following altercations with players.
In March, the league opened an investigation after then-Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook was seen in a video threatening a Utah Jazz fan and his wife who were sitting courtside. Westbrook said his comments were in response to a racially fueled remark made toward him. Following the investigation, the Jazz announced that the fan had been permanently banned from their arena. Westbrook received a $25,000 fine.
In the wake of the Westbrook incident, center DeMarcus Cousins revealed that he'd been subjected to racist comments by individuals in the stands throughout his career. Less than a week later, the Celtics reportedly issued a two-year ban to a fan who yelled a racial slur at Cousins during a game in Boston in January.
And Mark Stevens, a minority owner of the Golden State Warriors, was banned from all NBA games and team-related activities for one year and fined $500,000 after he shoved and directed obscene language toward Toronto Raptors point guard Kyle Lowry in Game 3 of the NBA Finals. Both Stevens and the Warriors later issued separate apologies to Lowry.