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The Third Rail
It's basketball time, my loyal subscribers
We’re crossing boundaries here today, my friends. We’re talking about taboos, we’re lifting the veil. And are we discussing the thin red line that separates the fans from the players? Oh yeah—I’m sayin’ it!!!
Yesterday, Tha Gawd Jay Caspian Kang published the latest installment of his (weekly? bi-weekly? I’m never sure) newsletter, this time about the heightened sensitivity around fan-player interactions in sports. He cited Naomi Osaka’s treatment at the infamous Indian Wells tournament, the always-in-the-news Russell Westbrook’s recent complaints about his objectively hilarious, longtime nickname, “Westbrick,” even the vile Coach K—it all tracked.
In general, I think fans are stupid. Anyone who pays enough money to sit near the main event (or is lucky to have friends who can supply them with such nice things) should, I think, be smart and decent enough to not be a huge dick. The incidents have been on a noticeable uptick post-lockdown; the average sports fan apparently has some pent-up aggression he needs to release. There’s something inherently gladiatorial and racist about (generally) rich white dudes at a basketball game yelling stuff like, “You’re soft!” at mostly black athletes. It feels icky. The culture is morally noxious. And to argue that athletes are actually paid millions of dollars, and part of that contract is to have the decorum and patience to withstand general verbal abuse? Slippery slope, to me! That should not be an argument in favor of, say, spitting on a player during a game:
Or maybe dumping popcorn on someone:
Or, perhaps, almost definitely directing a racial slur at a college athlete (which to this day the guy still hasn’t admitted to!):
These are all examples of fans being horrible. I do not support this, actually. But what Kang failed to consider—and I don’t fault him for this oversight—is this: what if the fan-player interaction is actually just funny as hell?
Being a huge dick in return
This was just all-time hilarious. To do this in Madison Square Garden, after absolutely demolishing the Knicks and stoking the flames of the beleaguered fans’ collective ire, and not even after a buzzer-beater, just a demoralizing backbreaker of a shot? Comedy.
Here’s Nick Kyrgios waging full-on psychological warfare with a Miami douchebag Look at this face:
Here’s the aforementioned man, after Kyrgios tosses him the ball from a winning point, desperately seeking his partner’s support:
Being confused at this guy’s whole vibe
The funniest thing here? The comically low stakes. This is a regular-season game, and Philly John Lasseter has pulled up courtside to double-fist the bird at Russell Westbrook’s face in the first quarter. He couldn’t even have been that drunk.
Being horny mid-game
This being a newsletter from a Michigan-alum Warriors fan, of course we are a Jordan Poole household. We can talk about his insane stats the past month, and how #LightYearsJoe needs to bust open the bank to keep this man in the offseason, or we can talk about these lovely clips of Jordan being an absolute horndog:
Here he is, most likely pointing out a particularly attractive fan sitting courtside, and telling his teammates how he feels about her. Keep in mind that the game is still very close at this point in the fourth quarter.
Here is Jordan, merely a couple weeks ago, being upfront about his preferences. This is also a man who, before he was any good in the NBA, shot his shot with no hesitation:
Just telling people to shut the fuck up
And what do we come away with, after all this? Some grand idea about sports and the nature of man? No. No, I’m afraid it all boils down to the fact that sometimes it’s just funny to watch KD tell someone to shut the fuck up.
If I were at a game, I’d yell out “It’s okay, sweetie” every 30 seconds to make sure I was covering all the emotional bases.