What is considered too far? What's considered good for sports? What's considered bad for sports? We sit here and we praise the athlete who is a good role model, while we banish the ones who are not so good. Does it stop at the athlete or does it continue? Is it the referees job to be a good role model? Is it an expectation of the fan to be a role model? In case you haven't guessed yet, I'm pondering the incident between veteran referee Joe DeRosa and Orlando Magic fan, Franz Hanning, that occured on Tuesday night during game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals.
If you haven't heard by now, a Magic fan was heckling the ref at halftime.Check out the video:
DeRosa then picked up the basketball and threw it at the fan. After the fan caught the ball he threw it back to the referee. At that point Mr. DeRosa deemed it necessary that Mr. Hanning needed to be ejected from the game. The staff at Amway Arena decided that ejection was not the answer and just relocated Mr. Hanning to another seat. Those are the facts right now, there is no speculation on what was said or what the NBA comissioner may do about it. My question is, was this an incident of the referee or the fan going to far? Or is this ok in the realm of sports these days?
Here's what I think: I believe that with any job comes ups and downs. When you referee the game of basketball at any level, you should expect to get heckled. Whether it be a parent of an 8 year old who believes that his son is untouchable or an overly wealthy man sitting courtside at the NBA Eastern Conference Finals, you will get heckled. You will get yelled at and you will probably be told that you suck more often than not. How often does a biased sports fan honestly walk up to the referee and say, "wow, you called a perfect game." I'm pretty sure that if that ever happens its probably few and far between. If your career path is a telemarketer and you call a house at dinner time, you are asking to be hung up on. Just like if you are officiating a game on the homecourt of a losing team during a big game, you're probably going to have your calls questioned. This is when you have to hold your head up high and walk away. Picking up a basketball and throwing it at a fan is not the answer.
Apparently the NBA is going to investigate into this further. I personally believe the Mr. DeRosa should be fined or suspended. Throwing anything at a fan is unacceptable. There has to be some sort of NBA officials code of conduct. I find it very hard to believe that they don't train these fine men and women in the art of handling the unruly fan. I have no idea what was said between the two at halftime, but whatever it was its the officials job to ignore it. Mr. DeRosa, you chose the glamorous life of being an NBA official, now you have to deal with it. Good luck with whatever Commisioner Stern throws your way.