Houston Rockets rookie guard Patrick Beverley received death threats on Friday and Saturday following a collision with Oklahoma City Thunder star Russell Westbrook that left the latter with a serious knee injury.
Officials at the Toyota Center, the Houston Rockets’ home court, implemented extra precautions for Saturday night’s playoff game after a person describing himself as a Thunder ball boy tweeted a series of threats at Beverley, The Houston Chronicle reports.
“Patrick Beverly (sic), I’m coming to kill you,” Mitchell Brown, a self-described ball boy for the Thunder, wrote on Twitter. Later, he directed a threat at Beverley’s Twitter handle, stating “@pavbev21 I’m coming to kill you.”
The ball boy’s tweets were later deleted. Initially, Brown tweeted an apology for his actions, stating, “Yesterday I posted something completely Inappropriate and I need to apologize. I was out of line and it will not happen again.” Later, he deleted that tweet as well, claiming that his account had been hacked, The Houston Chronicle reports.
However, local police and Toyota Center officials aren’t taking any chances in terms of Beverley’s personal safety.
“We definitely took precautions,” Toyota Center Director of Security Bryant Savage told The Houston Chronicle. “We definitely upped everything.”
Capt. Dexter Nelson of the Oklahoma City Police Department confirmed that his colleagues were working in conjunction with Houston police and NBA officials to investigate so-called “internal threats,” The Houston Chronicle reports.
Brown’s initial vitriol stemmed from an incident that occurred last Thursday night, during Oklahoma City’s Game 2 matchup against Houston. Westbrook was bringing across half court when he began to slow down, preparing to call a timeout. Beverley took the opportunity to lunge at the Thunder point guard, attempting a steal.
As he avoided Beverley, Westbook’s knee buckled, resulting in a torn meniscus that will cause him to miss the rest of the 2013 NBA playoffs. Still, Thunder coach Scott Brooks and star Kevin Durant have already absolved Beverley of any wrongdoing in the incident.
“That was not a dirty play,” Brooks said on Saturday. “It’s part of basketball. One of the things the kid does, he plays hard. Now, was it unfortunate and was he trying to get under his skin? Absolutely. But it wasn’t a dirty play. You want to play physical. You want to play hard. That’s what I like. That’s how you have to play.”
Durant also chimed in, calling Westbrook’s injury “an unfortunate play.”
“I hope [Beverley’s] not hanging his head off of it. It’s just one of those freak accidents.”
While Beverley regrets the injury to Westbrook, he affirmed his belief that the attempted steal was clean.
"I want to go against Russell Westbrook again and battle him again," Beverley told Yahoo! Sports on Friday. "I didn't try to hurt him, but that play was something I've tried in the past, a play that worked against the Suns earlier in the season – and it's a play that I'm going to continue to try again."
The Rockets and Thunder will face off in Game 4 of their Western Conference quarterfinals series at 9:30 p.m. EDT on Monday. The Thunder currently lead the series 3-0.