The NBA conference semifinals have had some riveting action and hot hoops debate. But nothing has garnered as much attention as what’s gone on off the court, where a couple of wild fans in Texas and Florida turned the Twitterverse on its collective head with their antics.
The first occurred on Monday in San Antonio, where a shrieking Spurs fan caused ears around the country to bleed. The other took place Wednesday at Miami’s AmericanAirlines Arena, where an angry blonde Heat supporter flipped the bird at Bulls big men Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson as they left the court after being ejected. It didn’t take long for viewers and journalists alike to get on the case, and as the details continue to roll in, the stories only get weirder (especially in the case of Miami’s Birdwoman).
CASE OF THE FIERY FINGER
The “Crime”: Game 2 between the Heat and Bulls had been out of hand in more ways than one for quite some time before Noah and Gibson were ejected early in the fourth quarter. Despite being a former Florida Gator, Noah is no fan favorite in the Sunshine State, and he and Heat star LeBron James had been going at each other all game. As Noah exited after being tossed for leaving the bench and arguing with an official, he walked past jeering Heat fans, one of whom was caught on camera showing Noah that he’s No. 1.
Then the same fan gave Gibson the treatment.
Then her buddy gave Gibson some. Who is this tough guy? Another case to tackle.
Then the awesome couple celebrated their awesomeness.
If smug self-satisfaction could be bottled, their scent would be included with every purchase of D-Wade’s postgame jacket.
The Suspect: According to the Sun-Sentinel, the woman in question is a Heat season ticket-holder from Palm Beach named Filomena Tobias. Normally, that would be the end of things — another job well done by the online sleuthing community — but in this case, a little digging goes a long way.
Turns out, Tobias is the widow of former CNBC commentator and hedge fund manager Seth Tobias, who was found drowned in his pool in September 2007. A police investigation determined that there had been no foul play, and the medical examiner concluded that the death was the result of a lethal mix of alcohol, cocaine and Ambien. However, Seth Tobias’ four brothers alleged that Filomena "had drugged her husband and lured him into the pool, where he drowned," according to the New York Times , and filed a civil case. The Tobias brothers and Filomena Tobias settled in June 2008.
That’s just the beginning of it, though. Go read Stephen Rodrick’s February 2008 feature in The New Yorker if you want all the dirty details. They include lots of money, significant amounts of drugs (and a strange drug testing technique), a gay con man psychic, a Porsche purchased on a credit card and a very aggressive Instant Messenger conversation between Filomena (also known as Phyllis) and Seth Tobias, during which Filomena wished AIDS on Seth, whom she presumed to be cheating.
The Evidence: When it comes to the middle finger in question, the evidence is pretty damning for Tobias. I mean, just look at her. She’s not playing around:
The Verdict: She sure looks a lot like the woman in this picture of Filomena and Seth Tobias in happier times. I think we’ve found our bird-flipper. And given her reported history, Noah may have gotten off easy. We find this fan guilty of having no class. And since neither Noah nor Gibson will comment, we’ll let Chris Tucker speak for them (WARNING: Strong language).
CASE OF THE SCREAMING SPURS LADY
The “Crime”: Game 1 between the Spurs and the Golden State Warriors was one of the better playoff battles you’ll ever see. Unfortunately, most of the fourth quarter and both overtimes were marred by one excitable fan seated too close to the TV microphones. The fan’s incessant shrieking and howling couldn’t be avoided and became a hit on the Internet.
The Suspects: This is where things get a little tricky. Whereas Tobias was identified rather quickly, we’re still not so sure who the Screaming Spur is — but a few people are claiming to be her.
KENS 5 in San Antonio identified the screamer as Val Garcia, a 23-year-old dental assistant. "It’s like I wanted the Spurs to hear it so they wouldn’t lose their fire," Garcia told the station. "I swear my eyes were going to pop out of my face. I was totally out of breath. After the game I felt lightheaded (and) my voice was shot." However, KENS 5 also received word from a fan named Paige Kramer, who also claimed to be the woman in question.
WOAI identified the woman as Vickie Villarreal, who said her parents could tell it was her voice. But a fourth woman, Lori Aguilar, went on the radio and to WOAI turning herself in as the suspect, telling WOAI, "After hearing it just once, I knew."
The Evidence: Well, here’s the video of the Screaming Spur. Obviously, the camera is focused on the on-court action, but the voice is hard to miss in the background. (Pro tip: turn down the volume before you click play.):
Tim Burke of Deadspin broke down the audio from the clip and determined that the screamer in question was picked up from the microphones on either Chris Webber or Dick Stockton’s headset. Based on his analysis, the person we’re looking for could be in this photo:
The Verdict: This seems like a case of several people looking for their 15 minutes of fame. We assume it was a woman, but this “Simpsons” episode reminds us that it could be a man. Either way, the shrieking disappeared in Game 2. Most likely ’cause the shrieker’s voice was shredded. That would be justice enough. Case closed — for now.