The Dallas Mavericks say two fans are banned from the American Airlines Center until next year after attempting to give “unwanted hugs” to members of Chris Paul’s family during Game 4 of the Mavs series with the Phoenix Suns.
Part of the incident was captured in a widely seen video on social media recorded by Mavs fan Barry McCary.
McCary, who loves sports so much he opened a retro apparel shop in Deep Ellum, says what he witnessed Sunday at Game 4 will never be in fashion.
He says he heard what he thought was Chris Paul’s father speaking to the Suns guard during a stoppage in play during the Western Conference Semifinals series.
“I heard him say, ‘hey,’ and pointed at the individual and said, ‘he touched your mom,’ so at that moment too I’m just thinking, ‘on Mother’s Day,’” McCary said.
McCary says didn’t know exactly what was happening in the moment so he took out his phone.
“As you can see he (Paul) is trying to work his way around the team huddle until he sees the kid probably right at the moment when he hopped out.”
The team initially acknowledged it was investigating an incident involving inappropriate fan behavior and provided an updated statement on Monday:
“American Airlines Center and Dallas Mavericks security and executives have concluded the investigation into the incident involving the Paul family. Two unruly fans attempted to give unwanted hugs and have conversations with members of the Paul family on the public concourse of American Airlines Center. AAC security responded immediately once notified by the family, and the fans were swiftly ejected from the game. The fans involved in the incident will not be allowed to return to the arena until 2023.”
The AAC was full again Monday night, this time for a Dallas Stars NHL playoff game where Bryan Wright of San Angelo says fans need to remember the excitement needs to stay on the respective playing surface, be it ice, hardwood or field.”
“Sometimes as fans we have to check our own emotions and realize the situation we’re in,” Wright said.
McCary agreed. He will be back at the AAC for Game 6 on Thursday hoping for a potential Mavs series clinch and free of any off-court drama.
“No matter what age you are just be on your best behavior, that’s what makes the game go,” McCary said.
NBA Should Consider Family-Only Seating at Games, Suns Coach Says
Phoenix Suns coach Monty Williams said the NBA should consider having a special section in the stands reserved for the families of visiting teams in the wake of Chris Paul’s family being harassed.
“It’s a hard one, because it’s happening more and more,” Williams said Monday at practice. “The situations are getting to a place now where I really feel like families, who are there to support their loved ones, need to be protected a bit more. Whether or not we have to give these people a section, a suite, something has to be done.
“Because we can’t wait for it to get to a level or two higher, before we do what we need to do. Yesterday was unnecessary.”
Williams said he didn’t know the extent of the harassment in real time because the game was still being played.
After the game, Paul tweeted: “Wanna fine players for saying stuff to the fans but the fans can put they hands on our families.” He also added an expletive.
Paul didn’t speak to the media after Monday’s practice.
What is the NBA Doing to Prevent Conflict?
The NBA has had several moments of conflict between fans and players or their families over the past few seasons, including an incident earlier this season when LeBron James had two fans ejected in a game in Indiana.
Suns forward Cam Johnson said a similar situation happened in Milwaukee last season during the NBA Finals when his girlfriend was hit in the back of the head and had beer spilled on her. Johnson said he didn’t hear about it until after the game.
“It was kind of a big scene,” Johnson said. “It really frustrated me.”
Johnson said security in Milwaukee handled the situation and that the fan was kicked out. He said security can only do so much to keep families safe.
“A large part of the responsibility has to be on fans,” Johnson said. “They just can’t act that way. There’s no other way around it. You’ve got to address the problem with the real problem. It’s that a fan can’t go up to someone’s mother and harass them.”
On Sunday, the Mavericks beat the Suns 111-101 and evened the best-of-seven series 2-2. Paul fouled out of the game in the fourth quarter. Game 5 is Tuesday night in Phoenix.
“I have to stress that I don’t think this is indicative of the fans in Dallas,” Williams said. “They’re cheering for their team. I’ve never had this kind of incident at that arena, even going back to the old spot, Reunion Arena, never.”