Fan pours drink on Celtics draft pick Thornton during game
SYDNEY (AP) An elderly basketball fan has been banned for the rest of the Australian season after tipping beer on the head of Boston Celtics 2015 draft pick Marcus Thornton during a domestic league game.
Thornton was playing for the Sydney Kings in a National Basketball League game against the Illawarra Hawks in Wollongong on Wednesday when he drove to the net in the third quarter and fell to the floor on the edge of the court. That's when a man seated in a private box leaned over and poured his drink on him.
Live footage showed the fan continuing to drink his beer while a female companion berated him. They were escorted from Wollongong's WIN Stadium a short time later.
NBL general manager Jeremy Loeliger reviewed the incident with Hawks staff and venue management Thursday, later describing it as ''unfortunate.''
The spectator had been in sitting a box owned by Figtree Private Hospital, which issued an apology to the Kings and Thornton.
''The 83-year-old father of a long-term, valued employee has some cognitive impairment and does not recall the incident,'' the hospital said in a statement. ''His family are very regretful of the incident and have indicated they will be making a formal apology on his behalf.''
The NBL has no plans to pursue the matter further, with an assurance the man would not return to games this season.
''It is a shame that a brilliant game was tarnished by the actions of one individual, however the players and officials showed their professionalism by moving on quickly,'' Loeliger said. ''We do not condone behavior of this type, and will continue to implement measures to ensure that this kind of interference is dealt with appropriately.''
Thornton, who played college basketball for William & Mary, was the 45th pick in June's NBA draft. He averaged 5.1 points on 31.6 percent shooting during eight appearances for the Celtics in the NBA summer league before signing with Sydney for the 2015-2016 Australian season.