Ron Artest weighs in on popcorn incident between Russell Westbrook, fan: ‘It shook me up a little bit’

When a 76ers fan poured popcorn on Wizards guard Russell Westbrook during Game 2 of the teams’ Eastern Conference playoff series, it didn’t sit well with Metta Sandiford-Artest.

The athlete, formerly known as Ron Artest and Metta World Peace, took to Twitter to call out the fan for his actions.

Sandiford-Artest’s opinion certainly matters. After all, he was involved in one of the most famous player-fan brawls in NBA history.

In 2004, Artest, then a member of the Pacers, went into the stands to fight a Pistons fan who had thrown a beer at him. The incident, which became known as “The Malice in the Palace,” resulted in Artest being suspended for 86 games, an NBA record for a non-drug-related suspension.

And seeing the popcorn dumped on an injured Westbrook as he walked to the locker room Wednesday night brought him back to that moment. 

“I felt like I was going to run into the stands,” Sandiford-Artest told USA TODAY Sports. “It shook me up a little bit.” 

Sandiford-Artest would go on to refer to the actions of the fans as “disrespectful.”

“Popcorn doesn’t hurt, but that’s really disrespectful. The problem is an athlete at that point in time is focused on the game,” Sandiford-Artest said. “You can’t throw stuff when you’re watching people perform. You can’t throw stuff at anybody. It doesn’t matter where you’re at.”

Many Twitter users agreed with Sandiford-Artest’s thoughts, and retrospectively said that he was right for choosing to fight the fan in Detroit all those years ago.

Since Westbrook was restrained by security, he didn’t get a chance to go after the fan. And despite his opinions on the incident, Sandiford-Artest said that ended up being a good thing for all involved.

“Westbrook was pissed, and he had the right to be pissed,” he said. “But I’m so happy that he was around people. Security was incredible.”

Indeed, the fan was lucky that he only had his season ticket revoked and received an indefinite ban from the Wells Fargo Center.

Had Westbrook not been surrounded by security, it could have been much worse.

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