The NBA playoffs have been thrilling, but no endorsement can be complete without pointing out the trend of fan incidents. [View in browser]( [FOX SPORTS INSIDER WITH MARTIN ROGERS]( In today’s FOX Sports Insider with Martin Rogers: While there is a collective desire to make up for lost time by showing passion and deep-rooted support, this is not the way ... we take a look at why Bucks-Nets should be the best series of the NBA playoffs ... and we are treated to a must-see video of Bears rookie QB Justin Fields. In statistical terms, it has now been 309 days since the NBA returned, though it has never felt more “back” than over the past couple of weeks. The ongoing playoffs have been supercharged with drama, delight and stories aplenty, which, combined with the monumental development of widescale increases in live crowd participation, has provided the league with what should be its most positive traction since the upheaval that sent the world spinning off its axis. As sports fans, it is a joy to behold, witnessing engaged, vociferous, passionate supporters wearing their jerseys and distracting free-throw shooters and high-fiving mascots and gulp, yes, even high-fiving each other. Let’s not mess it up. There aren’t many things that can spoil the positive vibes of a tremendously competitive postseason that no one seems able to predict accurately. The standard of play is speaking for itself, the lack of predictability (whatever happened to home court advantage?) is a superbly welcome quirk and all that noise from the stands is, frankly, magnificent. Yet no glowing endorsement of the NBA postseason can be complete without pointing out the disturbing fan incidents that have marred the start of bracket action. [STORY IMAGE 1] One incident is too much. Two or three are worrisome but can perhaps be judged individually. When the number increases to the point where it feels like there is something new and unsavory to talk about on a consistent basis, well, that’s when it becomes a trend. “Being in the house for a year and a half with the pandemic got a lot of people on edge,” Kevin Durant said. “Got a lot of people stressed out.” Durant is right. Show me a human being, basically any human being, and you’ll almost certainly be showing me someone whose life has more stressful elements and trigger points than was the case in those optimistic days of early 2020. Yet there is no excusing the things that have been happening to coincide with the mass return of fans to indoor arenas across the country. Can we simply talk about a postseason that has been as good as any in recent memory? There is no need for extras. The Phoenix Suns, sparked by the spectacular Devin Booker, just ousted the defending champion Los Angeles Lakers with style, bravery and flat-out excellence. The Clippers-Mavericks series is a masterpiece currently spearheaded by a young virtuoso, as Luka Doncic breaks out into fresh realms of productivity. The Brooklyn Nets vs. Milwaukee Bucks second round matchup is mouthwatering, featuring one team (with three stars) everyone is looking at and an opponent, so good in the first round that it just had a week off, that’s somehow still under the radar. Unfortunately, over the past week and change there’s been too much to talk about apart from the events on the hardwood. [STORY IMAGE 2]( Things began with the ignorant and pathetic, veered quickly into disgusting and outrageous, then speared rapidly towards physically dangerous and downright unforgivable. It started on May 26, with Russell Westbrook having a container of popcorn dumped on him as he left the floor after the Washington Wizards dropped Game 2 to the Philadelphia 76ers. The same night, Atlanta Hawks guard Trae Young was targeted by a cowardly fan who spit on his back from the courtside seats at Madison Square Garden, while New York Knicks’ Immanuel Quickley also revealed a cup of beer had been hurled at the New York bench. On Sunday, Kyrie Irving had a water bottle thrown in his direction after the Nets played the Boston Celtics. A day later, a fan ran onto the floor at Capital One Arena and was tackled during the Wizards’ Game 4 win over the 76ers. “People just feel very entitled out here,” Irving said. “Pay for their tickets, great. We are not at the theater, we are not throwing … random stuff at the people that are performing. It is too much. It is a reflection on us as a whole when you have fans acting like that.” Then, in an appalling twist, it emerged that early in the Utah-Memphis series, [the family of Grizzlies star Ja Morant had been subjected to vile racist and sexist abuse]( Salt Lake City. Comments allegedly issued to Morant’s father, Tee, were horrendous enough not to bear repeating here. Rest assured, they were sickening. There has been swift action from the league and from individual teams. Offenders in each of the incidents were removed from the premises and lifetime bans were handed out, plus criminal charges pressed against the person who targeted Irving. [STORY IMAGE 3] It has to stop. Sports is a celebration but this is a blight. The wonderful thing about live crowds is that thousands of people can congregate to enhance the experience of sporting entertainment for each other. The downside is that of all those people, it only ever takes one idiot. This isn’t an attempt to preach. I have been captivated by sports my whole life and have no wish for the intensity of things to become dialed down or sanitized. Yet while there is a collective desire to make up for lost time by showing passion and deep-rooted support, this is not the way. Let’s keep the perspective. Sports matters. Basketball maters. Say what you like, but the games we love did play a role in healing the country with their return. They are not trivial. Yet they are also not life and death and they do not provide a free pass for behavior that wouldn’t fly in any other circumstance. There are already some concessions. You’re allowed to yell, you’re allowed to cuss if you really must, you’re allowed to tell another person that they suck at their job and you’re allowed to boo. If you have a full head of hair, heck even if you don’t, and you want to tell Trae Young he’s balding, you can do that. That is the privilege of being a fan. And it is enough. [STORY IMAGE 4] There is always an element of competition involved with being a team supporter, to show that your fandom is greater, your love of the organization cuts deeper, that you feel more and care more and want them to win more than the next person. The natural extension of that, however, isn’t to dump popcorn or hurl beer, or throw anything for that matter. It is certainly not to spit or abuse or to endanger yourself and others by invading the arena of play. It is to be transfixed by the action, to live through the ups and downs, to find those extra pennies for a ticket, to (in most cases) experience the pain of a playoff exit yet be back for more next season, because that’s your team, that’s who you are and that’s what you do. The rest of it, the nonsense, the stuff that gets offensive, degrading, violent or racist, that doesn’t make the offender more of a fan. It means they hate sports, even if they think they don’t. [STORY IMAGE 5]( Here’s what others have said ... Nick Wright, First Things First: “What they are eventually going to have to do is to move the stands back. Make you further from the players as a whole, which we are all worse off for.” Brandon Marshall, FOX Sports: “We have to change the way we look at our security and we police arenas and stadiums all over the country, all over the world. Going to a game can be very dangerous.” Emmanuel Acho, Speak For Yourself: “Fans: Please understand your job description. Your job description is to simply be a fan. To be a fanatic. You are what makes the game great. However, you are not the opponent. The job of the opponent is to retaliate if they ever feel disrespected. It is not the job of a fan to retaliate.” SPONSORED CONTENT Getting recommendations from your friends for that perfect diet might be a big waste of time. The real answer actually is already within you -- specifically your genes. What are the best foods for you personally based on your DNA? What foods will give the nutrients that you need? How quickly do you metabolize caffeine and alcohol? With [Genopalate]( you don't have to guess at those answers. An easy at-home DNA test takes less than a minute, and you can see how much carbs love you back -- or don't. [Get your DNA analysis here for up to 60% off!]( [IN OTHER WORDS] - With new rules and a strikeout epidemic, minor league baseball is in a weird place after a year off, [FOX Sports MLB Writer Pedro Moura writes](.
- Injuries and fatigue were too much for the Los Angeles Lakers to overcome in their series against the upstart Suns, [FOX Sports NBA Writer Melissa Rohlin writes](.
- With the Lakers out and the 76ers hurting, Bucks-Nets should be the best series of the NBA playoffs. [FOX Sports Betting Analyst Jason McIntyre breaks it down](. [THE INTERNET IS UNDEFEATED] [THE INTERNET IS UNDEFEATED]( If you are a Chicago Bears fan and you haven’t seen this clip yet, we’re pretty confident in saying you are going to LOVE this! Check out Bears rookie QB Justin Fields working out with an assistant coach, who asks him who his center was at Ohio State. After telling him it was Josh Meyers, Fields adds that he was drafted “to the wrong team,” referring to the Green Bay Packers. Meyers was selected in the second round by the Packers, which means the former OSU teammates will now be NFC North rivals. [VIEWER'S GUIDE] Friday Night SmackDown (FOX, 8 p.m. ET)
The Usos challenge Tag Team Champions Rey and Dominik Mysterio this Friday on SmackDown. LA Clippers at Dallas Mavericks (ESPN, 9 p.m. ET)
Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks look to close out the series against Kawhi Leonard and the LA Clippers. Boston Red Sox at New York Yankees (Saturday, FOX, 7:15 p.m. ET)
Eduardo Rodriguez takes the mound for the Boston Red Sox, who take on the New York Yankees. Milwaukee Bucks at Brooklyn Nets (Saturday, TNT, 7:30 p.m. ET)
Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks take on Kevin Durant and the Brooklyn Nets in Game 1 of this Eastern Conference semifinals matchup. Atlanta Hawks at Philadelphia 76ers (Sunday, ABC, 1 p.m. ET)
Trae Young and the Atlanta Hawks go up against Ben Simmons and the Philadelphia 76ers in Game 1 of this second round Eastern Conference playoff matchup. [BET OF THE DAY] [BET OF THE DAY] Odds provided by [FOX Bet](
LA Clippers at Dallas Mavericks
Luka Doncic and Kawhi Leonard to combine for 60 or more points: +100 Luka Doncic has been nothing short of spectacular in this first round Western Conference playoff series vs. the LA Clippers. The Mavs’ do-it-all guard has averaged 35 points per game through six games, including an incredible 42-point output in the Mavericks’ 105-100 win over the Clippers on Wednesday night. Leonard has also been really good, averaging 30.4 points per contest, and with a possibility of an early first round exit in play, you’d expect the Clippers’ superstar to be at his best in this game. Look for both Doncic and Leonard to have big games, which makes taking them to combine for 60-or-more points a nice play. [WHAT THEY SAID] “Nobody should expect more of you than you expect of yourself.” — Carmelo Anthony [FOLLOW FOX SPORTS] [Twitter]( [Facebook]( [YouTube]( [Instagram]( Download FOX Sports App: [Fire TV](
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