NBA playoffs: Hawks fans cheered Joel Embiid's injuries in Game 3

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Hawks fans deserve ridicule for classless Game 3 behavior originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

Joel Embiid has been giving Hawks fans serious headaches through the first three games of the Sixers' second-round matchup with Atlanta. He's a matchup nightmare, a foul-drawing machine, and arguably the best player in the league - the exact kind of guy you never want to face.

But that's no excuse for the way Hawks fans behaved Friday night in Atlanta.

Embiid, who's been dealing with a meniscus tear in his right knee, appeared to suffer a possible injury at multiple points in Friday night's Game 3 vs. the Hawks on the road, and both times Hawks fans audibly cheered his visible pain.

The first time, Embiid clutched at his knee after a rebound in the third quarter:

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The second time, Embiid fell hard in the fourth and appeared to be in some serious pain:

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Luckily, both times Embiid was okay and able to keep playing:

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But in both of the above videos the Hawks fans' glee at Embiid's apparent pain is audible - and, for Atlanta, embarrassing.

If Sixers fans ever acted like this, cheering for an injury of an opponent, they'd be destroyed in national sports conversations for days. Instead, this behavior is probably going to be ignored by most as traditional talking points take precedence.

Which is unfortunate, because as bad as that run of fan incidents was in the first round, this is less dangerous but equally unacceptable. Fans cheering potential injuries to players is such dehumanizing and gross behavior. I know it's frustrating to watch a player like Embiid, who absolutely embellishes from time to time and is also a dominating player and is basically impossible to stop.

But that doesn't mean you need to forget that he's a human being first, and at the end of the day things are much bigger than a basketball game.

Hawks fans would do well to remember that, as would any sports fans watching their favorite players - or their least favorite players. Players will compete, but ultimately sports are so much better when we're all in this together.

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