As Emeka Okafor left the court following the Wizards’ win over the Trail Blazers on Wednesday night — in which he made the winning free throws — he distributed the usual high-fives to the fans dangling their hands over the railings that line the players’ tunnel at Verizon Center. One fan overreached and began to tumble over the partition about eight feet above the floor.
“I was just so excited about the first win of the season that I leaned over too far,” said the fan, who declined to be named out of embarrassment. “I didn’t realize [Okafor] was too far away.”
The fan was able to grab onto the outside of the railing, but found himself upside down and losing his grip. Okafor, who was acquired in part due to his veteran smarts, reacted quickly.
“He was falling over and I saw the guy,” Okafor said of the incident. “He was smiling the whole time. Before I got there he had stopped himself. I just helped put him back into the stands.”
The flustered fan’s friends began to shout, “Emeka Okafor just saved your life!” An exaggeration, perhaps, but the Wizards big man may have saved him from a potential hospital visit.
“He was over [the railing] but he had a huge smile on his face. He had absolutely no awareness of the danger he was in,” Okafor said with a laugh. “That’s a first for me. I haven’t seen that before.”
Okafor finished the game with six points, eight rebounds, three steals and one clutch save.
Since I also happened to be in the right place at the right time, I got video of the incident. Well, sort of. I’m not as quick as Okafor, so at the 0:18 mark of the vid you’ll see Okafor react and then the moment after he pushes the fan back up. A video of the full incident will be available later.
UPDATE: The Wizards cameraman caught a little bit more of the excitement here.