The Dallas Mavericks have banned two fans from the American Airlines Center until 2023 for trying to give “unwanted hugs” to family members of Phoenix Suns star Chris Paul.
The incident happened in the Mavs’ 111-101 victory on Sunday, which tied the best of seven Western Conference semifinals at 2-2. Game 5 is Tuesday night in Phoenix.
Arena security and Mavericks executives concluded their investigation on Monday.
“Two unruly fans attempted to get unwanted hugs and have conversations with members of the Paul family in the public lobby of the American Airlines Center,” their statement read.
“AAC security responded immediately when notified by the family and fans were promptly ejected from the game. Fans involved in the incident will not be permitted to return to the arena until 2023.”
The fans have not been identified.
Williams: NBA should organize special seats for families
Phoenix Suns coach Monty Williams said the NBA should consider having a special section in the stands for families of visiting teams.
“It’s tough, because it’s happening more and more,” Williams said Monday. “The situations are getting to a point where I really feel like the families, who are there to support their loved ones, need to be a bit more protected. Whether or not we should give these people a section, a sequel, something has to be done.
“Because we can’t wait for him to get a level or two higher, before we do what we need to do. Yesterday wasn’t necessary.”
After the game, Paul tweeted: “I don’t mind the players for saying things to the fans, but the fans can get their hands on our families.” He also added a swear word.
Paul did not speak to the media after Phoenix practice Monday.
The NBA has had several moments of conflict between fans and players or their families in recent seasons, including an incident earlier this season when LeBron James had two fans ejected during 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 shot in the back of the head and beer had been spilled on him. 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 the fan was kicked out. He said security can do little to keep families safe.
“A lot of the blame has to fall on the fans,” Johnson said. “They just can’t act that way. There’s no other way around it. You have to solve the problem with the real problem. It’s that a fan can’t go to the mother someone and harass them.”
On Sunday, the Mavericks beat the Suns 111-101 and tied 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 Dallas fans,” Williams said. “They are cheering for their team. I have never had such an incident in this arena, even coming back to the old place, Reunion Arena, ever.”