Nuggets’ Austin Rivers on fans’ ejection at Oklahoma City: “Clowns be clowns”

OKLAHOMA CITY – Nuggets guard Austin Rivers heard the chirping from two courtside fans and had enough.

Kyle Phillips, The Associated Press

Oklahoma City Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (2) shoots as Denver Nuggets guard Austin Rivers (25) defends during the second half of an NBA basketball game, Wednesday, Dec. 22, 2021, in Oklahoma City.

Nearly four minutes into the fourth quarter of Wednesday’s 108-94 loss to the Thunder, Rivers buried a 3-pointer from the wing, which prompted an OKC timeout.

Rivers went directly to one of the officials and pointed out two courtside fans who, Rivers said, talked incessantly about his family. The two fans were immediately escorted out by Thunder security.

“They were just talking about my family the whole night,” Rivers said after the game. “I’ll take a lot, you know, I do take a lot. I’ve been taking a lot of heat since I’ve been, what, eighth grade just because of who my father is (Sixers head coach Doc Rivers), so people like to talk.

“You got little punks like that that sit courtside and get real bold because they, I don’t know, they feel special and they think they’re cool, talking to someone like me,” he added. “I don’t know what they’re doing, I don’t know who they are. Bunch of nobodies just talking. I don’t even care to give them attention. But, clowns be clowns.”

Rivers, whose 12 points off the bench helped the Nuggets make Wednesday’s final margin respectable, said he generally doesn’t have a problem with fans.

“I don’t mind it most nights,” he said. “It was constant. It was like every time down the floor they were saying something about my dad, someone said something about my sister. And that’s when I was like, ‘OK, I’ve had enough a little bit.’”

Rivers’ point was that those fans never would’ve been emboldened to say anything in any other setting.

“I don’t want to be portrayed or try to make myself sound like I’m some tough guy … None of those dudes would ever talk to me like that if I wasn’t on the basketball court,” he said. “I don’t like people like that. Keep the same energy all the time. … You could talk trash, you could say ‘I suck,’ all that, that’s fair game. You’re talking about my family, like, what are we doing here? Imagine me showing up to where they work, and I’m just talking (crap) about their family the whole time, like while they’re trying to work. … A bunch of punks. I’m glad the refs threw them out otherwise, that’s where you get into a situation where I go over there and then it’s different.”

The incident marred an otherwise productive night from Rivers and Denver’s second unit. The Nuggets’ bench outscored the Thunder’s 45-28 and, briefly, gave Denver life in the second half.

Nuggets coach Michael Malone said he was thrilled with the second unit’s effort and for that reason, never went back to his starters in the fourth quarter.

The Nuggets head home after a strange two-game road trip and will face the Hornets on Thursday night.

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