Last night the Los Angeles Lakers beat the Utah Jazz 111-96 to complete a four game sweep in the second round of the NBA Playoffs. That's the headline, but what really should be reported is the disgusting abuse the Utah fans heaped on Laker Derek Fisher.
A little background here: Fisher is the starting guard for the Lakers. He left LA a few years ago after eight years for a better contract with the Golden State Warriors. Two years later, the Warriors traded him to Utah. During his stint away from Los Angeles, his daughter was born with retinoblastoma, cancer of the eye. Since Salt Lake City and its environs didn't have a hospital equipped to treat this rare form of the disease, Fisher traveled all over the country seeking medical help for his daughter. After a season commuting between New York, Los Angeles and back to Utah, Fisher asked Jazz owner Larry Miller to release him from his contract so he could play in a city that had the care his daughter needed. Miller graciously let Fisher go. Fisher went on to re-sign with the Lakers. His daughter now 5, has 50% of her vision back thanks to the medical care in Los Angeles.
Sports fans are a loutish bunch. I know because I grew up in New York and saw the behavior whenever the Boston Celtics or Bruins came to Madison Sq. Garden. Giant fans hate Dodger fans. Cardinal and Cub fans don't exactly get along and everybody hates the Dallas Cowboys. I'm not even mentioning Philadelphia fans and British soccer hooligans. You've got to have a thick skin to be a professional athlete. However the treatment of Fisher this past week by the Utah fans was beyond deplorable.
Whenever Fisher touched the ball during the two games in Utah, he was booed loudly. Okay, fair enough. A couple of times the chant of "Fisher Sucks" echoed throughout the arena which is just a few blocks from Tabernacle Square, the epicenter of the Mormon church. Pretty tasteless but I've seen worse. Worst happened last night.
Two women somehow got their hands on a pair of tickets in the front row on the baseline. They were wearing bright green tee shirts with the words "Fisher Lied" printed on them. The two were impossible to miss. Maybe they were thinking that their "stunt" would land them some face time on national television. It did. TNT showed a close up of these disgusting cretins.
Now I'm no prude when it comes to obnoxious fans. I've done my share of booing and "Bullshit" chants. (In fact, I was present at the sporting event where the "Bullshit" chant began. It was at a Knicks - Milwaukee Bucks playoff game at the Garden in 1970. It started a section away from me in the blue seats in the upper deck after the refs let Bucks center Kareem Abdul-Jaabar (Then known as Lew Alcindor) get away with a flagrant foul. The chant started slowly and was confined to about four sections. Most people were shocked even in the blue seats and it only lasted about a minute. The next day all the New York papers were filled with stories about the obscene fans and their disgusting, horrible chant.) However directing one's hate and ridicule at a father whose only offense was to seek the best treatment for his infant daughter is below contemptible.
"Fisher Lied?" About what? He faked his daughter's disease in order to escape Utah and rejoin the Lakers? He used his daughter's disease to get a better contract? How can someone's mind even go to into a place as dark that? Apparently these two Utah fans, who are no doubt proud of the middle finger they gave to the Fisher family. Good God. Does anyone doubt for a moment that Derek Fisher would give up all his money, fame and championships in exchange for a cure for his daughter? "Fisher Lied?" Why weren't these two assholes escorted from their front row seats and out on the streets where they belong? At the very least the Utah management should have told them to turn their shirts inside out. But no, apparently a basketball game is more important to these knuckle-draggers than common decency or the health of an innocent child.
At sporting events an announcement is usually made before the game asking fans to refrain from using profane language. Banners and signs that contain obscenities are removed by stadium security as soon as they're displayed. But not in Utah, a state that boasts of its family values. Pathetic, hate-filled hypocrites.
Stay classy, Utah.