The Utah Jazz have taken swift action against the fan who got into a verbal altercation with Oklahoma City Thunder star point guard Russell Westbrook on Monday evening.
Westbrook was spotted making a threat to a Jazz fan and his wife while standing on the bench Monday night. The star point guard then said after the game that the fan had said comments that were “racial” and “inappropriate.”
The Jazz announced on social media this afternoon that the fan has been permanently banned.
“Everyone deserves the opportunity to enjoy and play the game in a safe, positive and inclusive environment,” said Steve Starks, president of the Utah Jazz. “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.”
Statement from the Utah Jazz: pic.twitter.com/L3eYolvrpq
— Utah Jazz (@utahjazz) March 12, 2019
Westbrook said after the game that the NBA needed to do a better job policing the fans that attend games and yell things at players.
“For me, I’m just not going to continue to take disrespect for my family,” Westbrook said. “I just think there’s got to be something done. There’s got to be some consequences for those type of people that come to the game just to say and do whatever they want to say. I don’t think it’s fair to the players — not just to me, but I don’t think it’s fair to the players.
“And if I had to do it again, I would say the same exact thing, because I truly will 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. So that’s kind of where I’m at with the whole situation. As for beating up his wife, I have never put my hand on a woman; I never will. Never been in any domestic violence before. Never have before, but once he said the comment, his wife repeated the same thing to me as well. So that’s kind of how that started. I know you guys only got the tail end of the video, but the start of the video is way more important and way more disrespectful than what you guys heard.”
The fan spoke to ESPN about his comments:
The fan, 45-year-old Shane Keisel, told ESPN that he did not cuss at Westbrook or say anything inappropriate. Keisel said the exchange “started off as fun” with him yelling at Westbrook to “ice those knees up!” According to Keisel, after Westbrook replied that it was heat on his knees, Keisel hollered, “You’re going to need it.” Keisel said his wife, Jennifer Huff, didn’t participate in the exchange.
The Jazz have since banned him for life, saying there is “no place in our game for personal attacks or disrespect.”