Duke star Kyle Filipowski's collision with fan further fuels court-storming debate

Peter Sblendorio, New York Daily News on

Published in Basketball

Duke center Kyle Filipowski, one of college basketball’s most high-profile players, didn’t hide his frustrations after Saturday’s collision with a court-storming Wake Forest fan left him with an injured knee.

Neither did his coach, Jon Scheyer.

A little over a month ago, Iowa star Cailtin Clark was similarly upset after an Ohio State fan charged into her, causing an injury scare.

These incidents, and the subsequent reactions by the prominent players involved in them, continue to fuel debates about the safety of court-storming celebrations.

“When are we going to ban court-storming?” Scheyer said Saturday. “How many times does a player have to get into something where they get punched or they get pushed or they get taunted right in their face? It’s a dangerous thing.”

Wake Forest fans rushed the LJVM Coliseum court Saturday after the unranked Demon Deacons pulled off an upset 83-79 win over No. 8 Duke. Amid the celebration, a fan appeared to collide with the 7-foot Filipowski’s leg, causing the athlete to be helped off the court.

“I’ve already heard that there’s some videos of getting punched in the back, so I absolutely feel like it was personal,” Filipowski told North Carolina’s WFMY-TV afterward. “Intentional for sure. There’s no reason where they see a big guy like me trying to work my way off the court and they can’t just work around me. There’s no excuse for that.”

Sunday’s incident garnered renewed attention around a topic that commanded national scrutiny after a fan ran into Clark following Ohio State’s upset win at home over then-No. 2 Iowa on Jan. 21.

Clark, too, was helped off the court, but the reigning national player of the year avoided a significant injury.


“Kind of scary, could’ve caused a pretty serious injury to me, and [it] knocked the wind out of me, but luckily my teammates kind of picked me up and got me off the court,” said Clark, who recently became the all-time leading scorer in women’s college basketball.

“This is what comes with the territory. I’m sure they tried their best to do whatever they could. Obviously, it didn’t work, and that’s disappointing.”

The ACC, which Duke and Wake Forest are part of, and the Big Ten, which Iowa and Ohio Stater are part of, are the only Power Five conferences that don’t automatically fine schools when their students storm a field or court.

“Across college athletics, we have seen far too many of these incidents that put individuals at serious risk, and it will require the cooperation of all – including spectators –to ensure everyone’s well-being,” the ACC said in a statement Saturday. “As a conference, we will continually assess with our schools the best way to protect our student-athletes, coaches, and fans.”

Court-storming celebrations remain a prominent NCAA tradition that long predates Filipowski, Clark or even the former Duke star Scheyer’s playing careers.

The debate rages on, however, about whether changes are necessary.

“This gotta change,” Filipowski wrote Saturday on social media.

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