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When fans cross the line

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The death threat that Draymond Green received is the latest in outlandish fan behavior.

New Orleans Pelicans v Golden State Warriors - Game Five Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Draymond Green is the player opposing fans love to hate.

They pepper the arena with boos when the PA announcer utters his name during introductions or shows his face on the jumbotron. By the time Green flexes on the opposition half way through the third quarter, the fans have already stretched the limits of their vocal chords to let Green know how much they hate him.

And that’s perfectly fine.

Green’s spars with New Orleans Pelicans’ guard Rajon Rondo in the Western Conference Semifinals inspired Charles Barkley to say that he wanted to punch him in the face. This is the same Charles Barkley who still to this day hasn’t run Charles Oakley a fade for that alleged open hand slap before a players union meeting in 1999 — but sure he'd punch Green.

While Barkley’s comments toed the line, they were really much ado about nothing — Barkley for the most part, is talking trash like Turner is paying him to do.

Now, imagine a fan being so bothered by a game that he took to Twitter and tweeted that he hoped someone would shoot Draymond Green in the face after he leave the Smoothie King Arena during Game 4.

While the tweet was shocking and appalling, sadly, it wasn’t a bit surprising. Why? Because this is where we are with fandom. Social media made some fans comfortable to toe and cross the line. They would hop online and spew their vitriol all through the players’ mentions either fishing for a reaction or to feel some sort of power from taunting and trolling these guys.

San Francisco Chronicle’s Ann Killion asked in her column, “When does the fun of getting under the other team’s skin and giving its fans a focal point slip over the line to worrying about your safety?”

Well, if I were to guess, I would have to say again that social media made it okay for some fans to not only toe the line but to cross it.

The mirage of anonymity that social media provides is intoxicating and tempting to the point where some fans have that same energy when they are in the arena. We saw this throughout the playoffs with the incidents between Russell Westbrook and a Utah Jazz fan during the first round, and James Harden swatting a fan’s phone away in the Rockets’ second round matchup with the Jazz after that fan called Harden a flopper.

In addition to the “anonymity” of social media, there is an air of entitlement and resentment from some fans. There are those who think that a ticket here or shoes and merchandise there gives them carte blanche to say anything to these players regardless of how out of line and out of pocket it is.

Then there are others who are resentful of these men because they are getting paid millions of dollars for playing a “kid’s game” while they are struggling from paycheck to paycheck. These are the same kind of people who burn jerseys when a player decides to exercise their rights in free agency.

While fans either love or hate him, Green will continue to wreak havoc on opposing offenses, flex, and taunt their favorite team. Meanwhile, fans can boo, heckle, cry about it on Twitter.

If that’s not enough of a line to toe when it comes to cheering your team and razzing the opposition, make it enough.