CLEVELAND — They’ve been dubbed the “Nicholson seats,” but spectator safety at NBA matches is back on the agenda after the wife of golfer Justin Day needed hospital treatment after a collision with LeBron James.
The close proximity of the seats to the court allows fans the privilege of being in touching distance of the world’s greatest basketball stars, while also providing NBA games with their unique atmosphere. Actor Jack Nicholson is often seen sitting courtside at Los Angeles Lakers games.
But Cleveland Cavaliers coach David Blatt said such seats “concerned” him after Ellie Day — wife of world No. 2 golfer Justin — had to be carried from the court on a stretcher and in a neck brace after a collision with James during the Cavs’ 104-100 victory over Oklahoma City Thunder Thursday.
“Honestly, the only thing I saw was LeBron diving for the ball to save the ball,” Blatt said. “I kind of got blocked and just saw a sea of bodies. We all hope that she’s OK.
“It’s always concerned me, the sideline seats. Always concerned me, because things like that, when you’re talking about players of this speed and physicality and effort level, it’s not a simple thing.
“The powers that be are the ones that really need to decide how to deal with that. He made an honest attempt at the basketball, that’s all, obviously. We all hope she’s OK.”
The NBA wasn’t immediately available for comment, but James has no concerns about fans sitting courtside.
“I think it’s a great experience for our fans,” James said. “I mean, that doesn’t happen much. It’s unfortunate it happened tonight, but that doesn’t happen much.
“Our fans are why our game is so great. Sitting courtside, it’s all part of the game. It’s pretty cool. If I was a fan, which I am a fan of the game, but, I would love to sit courtside and watch games.”
With just three minutes 30 seconds left on the clock in the fourth quarter, James fell out of bounds trying to retrieve a loose ball and landed directly on top of Day — who had delivered her second child just last month.
A concerned Jason Day, who won his first major at the PGA Championship in August, looked on as his wife received attention from medics.
Metrohealth Medical Center spokeswoman Tina Shaerban Arundel confirmed to CNN that Day had received treatment but was later discharged.
The Cleveland forward is listed as 6-foot-8 and 250 lbs on the official NBA website and he tweeted Day a speedy recovery.
James also revealed he spoke to Day while she was receiving treatment courtside.
“I squeezed her hand and she said she was OK,” he said after the game. “She was just a little weary. For me, obviously, her health is very important and hopefully she is doing well.
“The guys told me she’s doing great now. For me, just going for a loose ball, tried to keep the possession going, I just hate that that was the end result.”
Last year, an eight-year-old boy died after being hit by a puck at a professional ice hockey game in France, and in 2002 13-year-old Brittanie Cecil died from the same cause at an NHL game in Ohio. The NHL has since installed safety netting above the plexiglass which surrounds its hockey rinks.
In June, baseball fan Tonya Carpenter was hospitalized with “life threatening” injuries after a broken bat struck her at Boston’s Fenway Park, though she recovered. The Red Sox have since raised the netting around the dugouts and home plate.