The NBA playoffs have brought some unfortunate situations to the league’s best players

The NBA playoffs are officially underway, with fans’ presence throughout all 16 team’s arenas in the first round. The energy in these games was unmatched during the regular season with limited spectators and most games feeling benumbed.

Through the first round, it’s become clear that the most engaging crowds came from the Atlanta Hawks and New York Knicks series.

 All five games at Madison Square Garden and State Farm Arena sold out. The rowdy New Yorkers did whatever they could to get into Trae Young’s head, including one fan going as far as spitting on him. Throughout the series, fans at MSG greeted Young with various chants, including explicit language directed towards the third-year player. Fans at Madison Square Garden, often referred to as ‘The Mecca, gave Young and the Hawks all they could. 

As fans at the Garden shouted more and more insults toward Trae Young, it seemed like he only played more inspiring basketball. 

Watching this series from home, you could feel the passion and raw emotion from these Knick fans who wanted nothing more than to win this series and make quick work of the Young and Hawks. 

Ultimately, the Knicks fell short, and Young made it his mission to silence the crowd and played with a chip on his shoulder, leading to the moniker “The Villain of Madison Square Garden.” After his game-winning floater in the first game, he scintillatingly silenced the crowd, mocking them for how quiet the arena was, perfectly placing himself in that villain role.

“He loves [being the villain]. There’s no sensitive bone in his body when it comes to that, Rayford Young, Trae’s father, told ESPN. “When they did it to Reggie Miller, Reggie Miller was in his prime,” Rayford told the paper. “He was 28, 29 years old, near the back end of his career. They’re going to have to see Trae for the next 10 or 15 years.

With the series tied at a game apiece heading back to Atlanta, Hawks fans knew they had to subsequently show up and show out after the party Knicks fans were throwing at the Garden after their Game two victory. 

Hawks fans backed their young team and presented them with the appropriate energy to provide a spark and ignite a flame within this team, resulting in sound losses for the Knicks in both games three and four. Hawks fans were paying back the Knicks for all the nasty taunts and gestures displayed during the first two games in New York. The Hawks team could feel the intensity in State Farm Arena and were determined to put on a show in their town.

Heading back to New York for game five, with the Hawks riding high off of the momentum from the two previous games, Knicks fans did all they could to throw the Hawks off of their game, booing players, talking crap to Young and other players but it was too little too late, the Hawks took the series in five. 

Although a short series, nothing short of entertaining, neither franchise had been in the playoffs for at least three years, and both team’s home crowd showed their love for their respective team and how much they’ve missed seeing their team in the postseason.

With the return of NBA fans, we have seen several inexcusable actions from them early on beyond Young’s spitting incident.

One Philadelphia 76ers fan threw popcorn at Washington Wizards’ guard Russell Westbrook in a game at the Wells Fargo Center. In their first-round matchup with the Boston Celtics, Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving had a water bottle thrown at him after taking a 3-1 series lead on the road at TD Garden.

Memphis Grizzlies’ Ja Morant competed in game two against the Utah Jazz when his dad, Tee, received racist remarks from three fans in Utah.

“I know heckling … But that’s different than heckling. That’s straight up disrespectful. That was too far out of line. You don’t say nothing like that heckling. That’s beyond heckling,” Tee told ESPN.

Ja later replied to the situation on Twitter, reminding fans that at the end of the day, it’s just basketball should never become that personal, especially in the stands. As fans are returning, a few feel a bit more entitled than one should. 

Fans motivate players, add another aspect to the game that makes it exciting for people watching from home. Fans inspire players to go out and get the job done and amp players up to give the game they’ve been involved with their entire life all they’ve got. Win or lose, the players still sacrificed so much to be where they are, and the crowd’s job is, and will always be, to uplift and push them to keep going.