Following Portland’s 129-98 loss to the Indiana Pacers, Nurkic made it clear that he doesn’t tolerate hecklers. Viral videos show the seven-footer casually walking across the court in his burgundy suit, getting face-to-face with a Pacers fan, grabbing his phone, and proceeding to throw it into the crowd. After the phone toss, a Gainbridge Fieldhouse security guard stepped in to separate Nurkic from the fan.
Jusuf Nurkic takes Pacers fans phone and throws it. pic.twitter.com/KafdHuCSqa
— Setting The 🅿️ace🏀🎙 (@SettingThePace3) March 21, 2022
It’s unclear what prompted the interaction, but it’s hard to imagine Nurkic would go to those lengths if he didn’t feel the fan said something that crossed a line.
NBA players have seemingly taken a strong stance against hecklers this season. In January, Lakers forward Carmelo Anthony furiously confronted a group of 76ers fans who were allegedly calling him “boy” throughout the game.
LeBron James, Austin Rivers, and Tristan Thompson each had unruly fans ejected from arenas on separate occasions this season. And Russell Westbrook has determinedly pushed back on fans who taunt him as “Westbrick” in recent weeks.
These incidents have become so frequent in the last year that Charles Barkley even previously warned against the mistreatment of professional athletes, advocating for players to “beat the hell” out of fans last season. Having a person removed from the arena seems like the appropriate response to a fan who says something offensive, but taking their personal property and throwing it into the stands was a next-level reaction from Nurkic.