DID some fans of the Toronto Raptors cheer when Kevin Durant collapsed, after he re-injured his calf muscle, early in the second quarter of game of the NBA Finals Tuesday (Philippine time).
Accounts vary: (a) They “appeared” to cheer the fall and waved good-by, pleased that the Golden State Warriors stalwart couldn’t play anymore. (b) They did so only for about five seconds and, being implored by two Raptor players not to cheer, changed their reaction and began to applaud Durant.
The Raptors were leading 3-1 in the fight for their first NBA title. Durant had suffered a calf sprain in the second round of the playoffs and his appearance Tuesday was viewed as a rush to help his team. Minus Durant, GSW latched on to a drama-filled 106-105 win in Game 5, forcing a sixth game on Friday.
It has become a 3-2 series. In the last game that saw the Raptors blow the chance to seal their first championship and the Warriors hounded by their injury luck, what have stayed as “issues” were the expressed jubilation over KD’s new injury and removal from the court and the two questionable timeouts by the Toronto coach.
Crowd behavior is more interesting, especially to watchers of President Duterte. Recall the Toronto crowd that shouted in joy as Durant crumpled and was helped by teammates as he limped out of court. Then compare that to the crowds that laughed and clapped hands as the president told stories about, say, wishing he had led the gang-rape of an Australian missionary or giving the order to soldiers to shoot women communist rebels in the vagina.
The NBA Finals crowd can be as partisan as can be. Toronto fans at the hometown Scotiabank Arena were in a frenzy, hyped up by the smell of imminent championship. It was not a boxing match but adrenaline could be like what prompts boxing fans to yell, “Kill the enemy!”
Lines of “acceptable behavior” of sports fans are at times blurred. In a crowd of 60,000 to 80,000, one becomes unknown and unidentifiable. A person can shout and curse, which otherwise he won’t do if he can be singled out and identified. Mob behavior is explained by the anonymity of individuals who comprise the mob.
In contrast, a person watching and listening to President Duterte has to behave well. Anyone in the audience can be easily spotted and removed from the crowd if his behavior is offensive. Even in big rallies, as in the last election campaign, the president’s security people employ enough resources to quell undesirable conduct among the crowd.
Who will ask?
What has disturbed the president’s critics is another kind of behavior not usually exhibited by sports fans. While Raptor fans of the NBA Finals cheered Durant’s new injury, suggesting cruelty or perversion, Duterte audiences guffaw over the “sick” jokes, prompting concern over Filipino values “lost or diminished.”
Analysts tell us that it is Filipino courtesy to applaud or laugh over what high public officials tell them. And, they explain, most people love the president sharing gross stories with them. Like the NBA players, Duterte has become a major entertainer.
At least two Toronto players pleaded to their fans not to cheer Durant’s injury. Who would ask Filipino crowds not to applaud presidential talk that they find repulsive when made by other public officials?