76ers fan ejected for flipping off Russell Westbrook apologizes
The Philadelphia 76ers fan who was ejected from his baseline seat at Wells Fargo Center during Wednesday’s game against the Oklahoma City Thunder for flipping off and swearing at Russell Westbrook has issued a public apology.
Richard Harkaway, a urologist and “part-time comedian” released a statement Thursday evening as follows, via Philly.com:
“As a part-time comedian I realize that my words and actions are sometimes inappropriate,” Harkaway said in a statement to Philly.com issued by a personal representative. “In this instance, after standing up to boo and being provoked by Russell Westbrook calling attention to my being overweight, my action in response was clearly inexcusable and I am embarrassed. I sincerely apologize to my fellow Sixers fans, the Sixers organization, my colleagues and patients, and to Mr. Westbrook for my behavior.”
Harkaway — whose was first identified via a tweet from Philly-centric website Crossing Broad — wasn’t completely removed from the arena, per Philly.com’s Keith Pompey, as he reportedly was allowed to watch the rest of the game from some other location.
Footage of Harkaway being escorted out of the arena’s lower bowl shows someone off-camera telling him he was “going to be an Internet hero,” to which Harkaway responds, looking into the camera to say, “You like that?”
@SmittyBarstool @barstoolsports @PhillyBarstool we need to hear his side of the story…#TTP pic.twitter.com/wTfRYgh46E
— T to the P to the G (@TDeer21) October 27, 2016
Harkaway’s apology, however, stands in contrast to how he described the incident originally in a private Facebook post, writing (via the New York Post):
“To all my FB friends who are seeing a picture of me on the Internet giving the finger to Russell Westbrook. Actually two fingers. Not as simple as it seems. I love to scream at the players and anyone who has been to a game with me knows this. Part of my charm. What you may not have seen on any of the video clips is what started the whole thing, which was Russell Westbrook saying ‘sit down (expletive) fat boy’ when I stood up to boo.”
Baseline camera footage shows Westbrook yelling something, but it doesn’t appear to be directed at Harkaway, as the Thunder star makes a few steps to his left before gesturing toward Harkaway after the double-bird and vulgar language:
Sixers fan on baseline just gave Russell Westbrook the double birds after an and-1. Westbrook reaction: pic.twitter.com/KwTeswmFJv
— Erik Horne (@ErikHorneOK) October 27, 2016
The footage certainly doesn’t definitively point one way or the other as to what Westbrook said and to whom it was directed, so it’s essentially a “He said, he said” situation.