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Blazers Fan Tossed for Sign

May 1, 2001

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) _ She needs six more ejections to match Rasheed Wallace’s total, but a fan was tossed out of Sunday’s Trail Blazers playoff game against the Los Angeles Lakers for refusing to give up her sign disparaging Portland general manager Bob Whitsitt.

Katherine Topaz, who attended Game 3 with her 8-year-old stepson, held up a handmade sign that read ``Trade Whitsitt,″ referring to the executive’s series of questionable personnel moves that backfired on the Blazers this season.

Topaz was sitting in the 10th row, and her sign was in full view of Whitsitt, who was sitting next to owner Paul Allen on the other side of the Rose Garden.

During halftime of the game, which the Blazers lost 99-86 to get swept from the best-of-five series, a security guard asked her not to show the sign. A second guard asked her to hand it over. When she refused, she and her stepson were escorted out by a group of guards.

``These players get ripped on all the time, and the general manager can’t take a little joke? Come on,″ Topaz told radio station KFXX on Monday morning.

Blazers spokeswoman Sue Carpenter said the team has the right to confiscate any sign it deems objectionable or not in good taste. About 10 signs were confiscated Sunday, Carpenter said, including one that read ``Shaq’s a jerk.″

Whitsitt referred questions about the incident to the team’s marketing director and building personnel, but said, ``I understand she had the opportunity to stay and chose not to.″

The Blazers finished the season losing 10 of their final 13 games, and Whitsitt joked that the sign should have suggested he be fired instead of traded.

``I don’t think you’d get anything if you’d trade me,″ he said.

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