WASHINGTON -- In the closing minute of their blowout loss to the Heat, the eighth loss in nine games for the Wizards, frustrations boiled over as Wizards assistant coach Mike Batiste left his seat on the bench to approach a heckling fan in the stands.
Batiste didn't make it far, as Wizards centers Montrezl Harrell and Thomas Bryant rushed over to intervene. There was no physical contact between any member of the Wizards and a fan before Harrell ushered Batiste down the tunnel and into the locker room.
"I was kind of at the scorers' table, so I turned around after I think it kind of began," head coach Wes Unseld Jr. said. "To my understanding, a fan or several fans said something that was out of line. Obviously, we have to take the high road and just can't indulge in that. I think it was a situation where something was said that was a bit over the line and I think it got the best of one of our coaches. Either way, you have to take the high road."
It is unclear what the fan or fans yelled in the direction of the Wizards' bench. It is also hard to tell by watching the video replay which fans were the ones heckling.
This just the latest in a string of events between fans and members of NBA teams. There have been several instances already this season where players or staff members pointed out heckling fans sitting behind the Wizards' bench to have them ejected from games. Harrell himself did so earlier this year in a game against the Celtics.
Fan incidents have been an ongoing issue in the NBA going back several years. In last year's playoff series between the Wizards and Sixers, then-Wizards guard Russell Westbrook had popcorn thrown on him by a Philly fan.
Unseld Jr. said he feels like those types of things are happening more and more these days.
"I think I've seen it happen around the league or various leagues. We're just more aware of it, maybe. But it does happen and, I think in the last probably year-and-a-half since fans have been back in arenas, at times yeah, it has gotten a bit more egregious," he said.
"So, it's difficult because you have to kind of endure somethings you probably shouldn't endure or wouldn't endure in the general public. But that's part of it and you have to kind of have selective hearing at times and keep playing, go beyond that."
It's possible there will be further ramificaitons for Batiste and the fan involved. The league takes these types of matters seriously and they often result in punishment. Players and coaches are usually fined or suspended, while fans can be handed lifetime bans from games.