Los Angeles Lakers forward Carmelo Anthony had a verbal altercation with several Philadelphia 76ers fans on Thursday night, causing two of them to be removed from Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia.
The Lakers were down by 16 points in the fourth quarter when the situation reached its boiling point when Anthony approach the stands before he was restrained by an official. The fans were sitting one row behind the courtside seats, behind the TNT broadcasters, who said the fans heckled Anthony for about four consecutive possessions.
The former Syracuse superstar had a conversation with the referee before walking over to the baseline near the corner of the court, where he was heckled by another fan, before 76ers center Joel Embiid diffused the situation.
One of the fans removed from the arena repeatedly called Anthony “boy” and yelled “get in the corner, boy” and “keep shooting, boy,” according to a report by Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports. After the Lakers’ 105-87 loss, Anthony confirmed there were two groups of fans who said the word “boy” toward him, and he said he believed those fans crossed the line.
When used to describe a Black man, the word “boy” has a historical context that can be interpreted as racist. Anthony was asked his perspective on the altercation after the game.
“It is what it is,” Anthony said. “Some things was said. It’s unacceptable. I’m cool with fans heckling, fans talking trash, cheering for their team or the other team. I’m all for that, but when you cross certain lines — as a man — that’s what you’re gonna see. That’s what you’re gonna get. I’m sure the people that’s in charge will take care of it or deal with it accordingly. My job is done when it comes to that.”
Anthony finished with nine points and three rebounds for the Lakers, which missed production from All-Star forward LeBron James due to an injury. Earlier this season, James had his own encounter with a couple of fans in November against the Indiana Pacers.
When asked about potential discipline toward the ejected fans in Philadelphia, Anthony said he’s not in control of that outcome.
“That’s not up to me. I’m not in control of that,” Anthony said. “The only thing that I can do is — sometimes you play through it and try to play through certain things, you play through the heckle, but that’s all fun and games. I’ve been doing that for 19, 20 years, especially coming here (Philadelphia). It’s been a great place to come and play. I know how the fans are here, but it’s just certain things you don’t bring to any type of sporting event. It’s certain things you don’t say to anybody.
“If I was outside and I bump into you and you said that to me, then it would be a totally different story. But again, it’s out of my hands now. However they want to play it, they can play it.”
Lakers coach Frank Vogel advocated for Anthony when asked about the situation in his postgame press conference.“Unacceptable language and unacceptable behavior by fans is the simplest way to put it,” Vogel said, according to The Athletic’s Bill Oram. “There’s gotta be a higher standard and hopefully that’s handled the right way.”