Westbrook fined $25,000 over fan bust-up
By Agence France-Presse
Oklahoma City Thunder star Russell Westbrook has been fined $25,000 for his part in an expletive-laden bust-up with a Utah Jazz fan, the NBA said Tuesday.
A brief statement from the league’s vice-president of basketball operations Kiki VanDeWeghe confirmed Westbrook’s punishment for the incident on Monday at Utah’s Vivint Smart Home Arena.
The Utah Jazz meanwhile said the fan involved in the incident had been banned for life from the venue.
Westbrook was seen angrily swearing at the fan during the Thunder’s 98-89 win on Monday.
The 2017 NBA MVP later said he had been subjected to racist abuse by the fan.
“The young man and his wife in the stands told me to get down on my knees like you used to,” Westbrook said.
“And for me that is completely disrespectful. I think it is racial. It is inappropriate.
“There are people that come to the games to say mean disrespectful things about me and my family. For many years I have done all the right things and never done anything to hurt or harm anybody. Never been in any trouble. Never fought a fan.”
The Jazz meanwhile confirmed it had permanently banned supporter Shane Keisel from their arena, citing “excessive and derogatory verbal abuse.”
The team said the fan had been banned after footage of the incident was scrutinized and following eyewitness accounts of the exchange.
“Everyone deserves the opportunity to enjoy and play the game in a safe, positive and inclusive environment,” Utah president Steve Starks said in a statement.
“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.”
Utah players Donovan Mitchell and Thabo Sefolosha also issued statements in support of Westbrook.
“As a black man living in a community I love, and playing on a team that gives me the opportunity to live out my dreams, this incident hit close to home,” Mitchell wrote.
“Racism and hate speech hurts us all, and this is not the first time that something like this has happened in our arena. The Utah that I have come to love is welcoming and inclusive and last night’s incident is not indicative of our fanbase.”
Keisel later denied racially abusing Westbrook, instead saying he had told the player to “sit down and ice your knees.”
Ebony.com meanwhile on Tuesday pointed to a series of since deleted tweets on Keisel’s Twitter account which indicated a history of animosity towards Westbrook.
“Westbrook is a piece of classless shit. Somebody needs to kick his ass. #tool #poorloser,” Keisel reportedly wrote in April 2018.
A separate tweet last October read: “Russell Westbrook needs to go back where he came from!! MAGA.”