Boston guard Isaiah Thomas has been fined $25,000 for inappropriate language toward a fan during the Celtics' Game 4 loss at Washington.
The NBA announced the fine Wednesday.
On the court Isaiah Thomas responded well, scoring 18 points in a 123-101 route over the Washington WIzards. The Celtics now hold a 3-2 series lead as the series heads back to D.C..
That's not the point. The point is the fine and the symbolism of the fine itself. While there is certainly a line that players should not cross when communicating with fans, Thomas didn't cross it. Apparently, this fan was yelling obscenities at Thomas all game long, including this charming phrase -- "Take his toothless a** back to Boston". Isaiah then gets fed up at one point and says "I'll F you up". Not pleasant, but it's also not like he went all Ron Artest and actually did it.
Compare this fine to the 2 other 25,000 fines handed out by the NBA for similar situations. Marcus Smart, Thomas' teammate, gave the middle finger to a fan in round 1. That middle finger was nationally televised and was caught on camera by TNT, different story. Patrick Beverly of the Rockets actually got in the face of a fan, no Bueno. Isaiah Thomas simply did what we all would do, snap back verbally at someone who was getting personal and screaming at us for 2+ hours.
My big problem with this is, what kind of message does this send to those idiot fans out there? So you can go to a game, sit super close to the action, and yell whatever obscenities come to mind? And you can do so with the motivation that if you get under the skin of the player you're directing your hate towards, they'll lose 25k! What kind of message does that send? Isn't the NBA just enabling that kind of behavior from it's fans who sit closer than any other fans in sports? The answer is yes, and sports leagues really need to rethink the way they dull out these punishments. Because the last thing you want is to get to the point where fans feel like they can yell racist slurs and throw peanuts at professional athletes...Oh, wait...That's already happened in Boston.