Utah Jazz bans fan for ‘derogatory verbal abuse’ toward Russell Westbrook

by Samuel Abasi Posted on March 12th, 2019

The Utah Jazz announced a permanent ban for the person responsible for directing vulgar and inappropriate language at Oklahoma City Thunder star Russell Westbrook during Monday night’s game at Utah’s Vivint Smart Home Arena.

The ban is for all arena events, and “is based on excessive and derogatory verbal abuse directed at a player during the game that violated the NBA Code of Conduct,” the team said in a new release.

The incident led to Westbrook threatening the fan and his wife from the Thunder bench, shouting, “I promise you. You think I’m playing? I swear to God. I swear to God. I’ll (expletive) you up. You and your wife. I’ll (expletive) you up.”

After the game, Westbrook said the man and his wife told him to “get down on (your) knees like you’re used to.”

After the Jazz announced the permanent ban for the fan, the NBA fined Westbrook $25,000 for “directing profanity and threatening language to a fan.”

In a statement released Tuesday, Jazz president Steve Starks said:

“Everyone deserves the opportunity to enjoy and play the game in a safe, positive and inclusive environment. Offensive and abusive behavior does not reflect the values of the Miller family, our organization and the community. We all have a responsibility to respect the game of basketball and, more importantly, each other as human beings. This has always been a hallmark of our incredible fan base and should forever be our standard moving forward.”

The team said it conducted an investigation that included video review and eyewitness accounts.

Initially, Westbrook was captured on video delivering a profane tirade at the fan and his wife during the game. But then it was revealed the fan, identified as Shane Keisel, told Westbrook, ““Get down on your knees like you used to.”

That comment bothered Westbrook who told reporters after the game, “If I had to do it again, I would say the same exact thing because I will truly stand up for myself, for my family, for my kids, for my wife, for my mom, for my dad every single time. I expect anybody else to do the same.”

EARLIER: Russell Westbrook unleashes expletive-laced tirade on Utah fan

Russell Westbrook didn’t particularly like the fans in Utah before Monday night’s game. The Oklahoma City Thunder star’s opinion will likely be worse after another heated exchange during the game against the Utah Jazz at Vivint Smart Home Arena.

In video shared on social media, Westbrook was seen unleashing a profanity-laced tirade at a fan off screen near the Thunder bench. It was unclear what set Westbrook off, and the fan is never seen in the video shared.

Before addressing the fan, Westbrook appears to speak with an arena official. He points in the fan’s direction, saying, “I’m going to tell you one thing. I’ll (expletive) him up.”

Westbrook then turns and yells to the fan.

“I promise you. You think I’m playing?” he says. “I swear to God. I swear to God. I’ll (expletive) you up. You and your wife. I’ll (expletive) you up.”

Westbrook briefly turns his attention to the action on the court before addressing the fan once more.

“I promise you,” he repeats. “On everything I love. Everything I love.”

Westbrook addressed the confrontation with reporters after the game.

“How it started was, a young man and his wife in the stands told me ‘to get down on your knees like you used to.’ To me, that’s just completely disrespectful. I think it’s racial, and I think it’s inappropriate in the sense that there’s no protection for the players.

“I think there a lot of great fans that like to come to the game and enjoy the game. And then there are people that come to the game to say disrespectful things about me, my family.”

“That’s just one video, but throughout the game, since I’ve been here, especially here in Utah, every time I come here there’s a lot of disrespectful things that’s said,” Westbrook added. “For me, I’m just not going to continue to take the disrespect for my family.”

Salt Lake City’s KSL5TV later identified the fan as Shane Keisel, who spoke to the station’s reporter about the incident. Keisel said he mentioned Westbrook icing his knees.

“It was when Joe (Ingles) had come by and poked Paul George in the eye, and then Joe goes over and apologizes immediately,” Keisel said. “Russ is just F-bombing and carrying on, acting a fool down here, and everybody’s getting on him.”

“I never said a swear word to him,” Keisel continued. “Everybody in the vicinity will say it. And she never left her seat, never said a word, hands in her lap. Never said a single swear word to him, not one. Initially I was like, ‘Oh, I’m talking with Westbrook. The guy’s one of the greats.’ But he’s also classless.”

It was unclear at what point during the game the incident occurred, but it overshadowed Westbrook’s night on the court. He finished with 23 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists to lead the Thunder to a 98-89 win.

Thunder teammate Raymond Felton was nearby on the bench and backed up Westbrook’s account of being taunted.

“He’s not coming off and talking to the fans, just saying stuff to them,” Felton said. “He’s not. They’re coming at him first. When is there going to be a point where there’s going to be protecting those players? People can say whatever they want to us during games and yell out stuff and talk about our families and talk about our kids.”

The Jazz issued a statement later that said the team is “continuing to investigate the unfortunate exchange between Russell Westbrook and fans. Multiple warning cards were issued by arena security. Players and fans have a shared responsibility to create a safe and respectful environment. If it is determined that any fans violated the NBA Code of Conduct appropriate action will be taken.”

Monday night’s incident was not the first between Westbrook and a fan in Utah. He had a pair of confrontations during last year’s first-round playoff series between the Thunder and Jazz.

During Game 6 of the series last April, Westbrook was walking off the court at halftime when a fan leaned over a railing to shout at him. Westbrook turned and appeared to yell “Back the (expletive) up” before being separated.

After the Thunder lost the game and the series, Westbrook took a swipe in the direction of a fan who appeared to be recording the Oklahoma City star on his phone.

“I don’t confront fans, fans confront me,” Westbrook said after the game. “Here in Utah, man, a lot of disrespectful, vulgar things are said to the players here with these fans. It’s truly disrespectful. (They) talk about your families, your kids. It’s just a disrespect to the game and I think it’s something that needs to be brought up.

“I’m tired of just going out and playing and letting fans say what the hell they want to say. I’m not with that. If I was on the street, they wouldn’t just come up to me and say anything crazy, because I don’t play that (expletive).”

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