76ers Fan Who Flipped Off Russell Westbrook Defends Himself - Rolling Stone
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76ers Fan Who Flipped Off Russell Westbrook Defends Himself

Philadelphia fan whose middle finger salute to Russell Westbrook went viral says superstar was “provoked”

Russell Westbrook, 76ers fan, 76ers middle finger, basketball, NBA, philly sports fans, PhiladelphiaRussell Westbrook, 76ers fan, 76ers middle finger, basketball, NBA, philly sports fans, Philadelphia

Russell Westbrook reacts to 76ers fan Richard Harkaway flipping hi two middle fingers.

Ronald Martinez/Getty

You can’t blame 76ers fans for being fired up right now. Following three straight seasons of winning less than 20 games, the process is starting to pay off with Joel Embiid finally being healthy enough to step out onto the basketball court. He looked the part in his season debut against the Oklahoma City Thunder, too, with 20 points and the sort of trash talking you’d expect from a star in the making.

However, one 76ers fan sitting courtside was a little too fired up on Wednesday and got into trouble with security after he gave Russell Westbrook the double bird during a break in the action. Here’s video of the incident that went viral, followed by him saying “You like that?!” to another fan sitting in the crowd as he was escorted away from his seat.

The fan has since been identified as Richard Harkaway, a urologist who works for a medical practice in North Philadelphia, and he released a statement on Thursday apologizing for the incident even though he says he was “provoked by Russell Westbrook.”

“As a part-time comedian I realize that my words and actions are sometimes inappropriate,” Harkaway said via Philly.com. “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 also posted a message on his Facebook page on Thursday, according to Complex, in which he gave a few more unfiltered details of his side of the story.

“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 f–ing fat boy,’ when I stood up to boo….I am sometimes sensitive about my plumpness. I guess I got a little out of hand.”

As for Westbrook, he said after the game that he has “turned a new leaf” when it comes to getting into it with fans because the $25,000 he was fined the last time he got involved was enough of a lesson.

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