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Two fans at the Dallas Mavericks’ playoff game against the Phoenix Suns on Sunday “attempted to give unwanted hugs” to members of Chris Paul’s family, sparking their ejection, officials said.
The Mavericks released a statement on the incident Monday afternoon after American Airlines Center and Mavericks security and executives finished their investigation into the incident.
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“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,” the statement read. “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.”
Paul raised eyebrows Sunday with a tweet about fans harassing his family during the team’s playoff game against the Mavericks. Paul, who had previously been the president of the National Basketball Players Association, said the NBA liked to fine players for lashing out at fans but said fans were allegedly allowed to put their hands on players’ family members.
“Wanna fine players for saying stuff to the fans but the fans can put they hands on our families….f— that!!” he tweeted.
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Video posted to social media showed security escorting fans out of their seats. Paul appeared in the background trying to confront a fan as he was leaving.
According to ESPN, Paul’s family members had been harassed by fans, and some in the crowd made physical contact with them.
Suns coach Monty Williams said Monday the NBA should consider having a special section reserved for players’ families in wake of the incident.
“It’s a hard one, because it’s happening more and more,” Williams said. “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.”
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. The fan was eventually kicked out of the game.
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“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.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.