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Why Is the NBA Handing Out 'Red Cards' to Unruly Fans? (They've Reportedly Been Doing It Since 2005)


"Friend got this at a game tonight."

Image: NBC Sports

There has been talk about it on sports radio shows, but until Wednesday, most of us had never seen it. What are we talking about? The NBA Red Card.

Image: NBC Sports

The card pictured above was apparently handed out at a Wednesday night game between the Detroit Pistons and the Milwaukee Bucks. The image was posted on Reddit by someone with the user name "put_bacon_on_it" with the statement, "Friend got this at a game tonight."

Image: Reddit

The post caught the attention of basketball fans as well as the NBA's front office. The league quickly responded with a tweet of their own, letting the world know that they have been handing out these warnings to unruly fans since 2005.

Image: Twitter

The average price of a non-courtside ticket to an NBA game is just over $50. Some of the premium seats in major markets like New York City or Miami can cost as much as $1200. But, does that price permit you to do or say anything you want to say at the game? The league says no.

The NBA's "Red Warning Cards" were likely a reaction from the league following an outbreak of fans behaving badly. Over the past two decades, as the league moved seating closer to the court, fans were often seen shouting at players, coaches and refs. While the NBA says the "Red Cards" started in 2005, the seeds of the fan behavior policy can be traced back to 1997 and Washington Wizard's season ticket holder, Robin Ficker.

Image: YouTube

Robin Ficker is the man who some say should get credit for the league's stance on loud or unruly fans. He's the Maryland lawyer who spent 12 years seated right behind the opposing team's bench and was frequently seen standing and shouting at coaches and players. Ficker's favorite target was Michael Jordan. He was fond of standing behind the Chicago Bulls' bench and reading unflattering passages from Sam Smith's 1992 book, "The Jordan Rules." Claiming that his comments were not obscene or offensive, Ficker told the Washington Post, "Anything I have said could be printed in a family newspaper. I never said one thing I regret."

During last night's show, ESPN's Keith Olbermann dedicated a segment to the exciting news that the NBA Red Cards were real. And, like just about everyone else, Olbermann had never seen one.

Do you think the NBA's policy is necessary?

Follow Mike Opelka on Twitter - @stuntbrain

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