SALT LAKE CITY -- Russell Westbrook got into a heated verbal altercation with a fan and the man’s wife during the second quarter of Oklahoma City’s 98-89 victory over Utah on Monday night.
After an investigation by the Jazz, the team announced on Tuesday their decision to permanently ban the fan from all future events at Vivint Smart Home Arena because of "excessive and derogatory verbal abuse directed at a player".
Early in the second quarter, Westbrook stood up from the bench when he felt both fans directed a racial taunt at him. According to the Thunder guard, they told him to “get down on my knees like I used to.” After that, Westbrook was seen on video cursing at the man and his wife.
According to multiple reports, some of Westbrook's comments were caught on video by another fan.
"I swear to god, I’ll [expletive] you up. You and your wife, I’ll [expletive] you up. Promise you on everything I love, I promise you,” Westbrook says to a fan on the video.
On Tuesday, the NBA fined Westbrook for his comments towards the fan.
Westbrook expressed concern following Monday's game with the verbal abuse he and teammates have received from fans on the road. Much of it has been directed at their families, according to Westbrook. He said he is done tolerating their disrespect.
"For me, I'm just not going to continue to take disrespect for my family," said Westbrook after the game, per ESPN's Tim MacMahon. "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. 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.”
The fan, 45-year-old Shane Keisel, told ESPN that he did not swear or say anything inappropriate at Westbrook. He said that the exchange "started off as fun" with him yelling at Westbrook to "ice those knees up!". Keisel said Westbrook told him it was heat on his knees, to which Keisel hollered, "You're going to need it." Keisel also told ESPN that his girlfriend, Jennifer Huff, did not participate in any of the exchange.
"He just went nuts," Keisel told ESPN. "She never got up. She never stood up. She never said a word to him. I mean, it's all fine, we're having fun and games with the guy and we're talking, but at the end of the day, no man should threaten a woman, period.
"I'm not afraid of the guy. Come on up. But when you threaten a woman that's 5-feet tall and 110 pounds, you're a big man. So this guy needs to be exposed."
Jazz security issued multiple warning cards to fans in the area and the team issued a postgame statement saying they planned to investigate the incident.
“Players and fans have a shared responsibility to create a safe and respectful environment,” the Jazz statement said. “If it is determined that any fans violated the NBA Code of Conduct, appropriate action will be taken.”
Jazz statement: pic.twitter.com/vhcSIWqVmS— Tim MacMahon (@espn_macmahon) March 12, 2019
Westbrook recently objected to a young fan touching him on the sideline during a game.The fan said in a TV interview that neither he nor his wife cursed at Westbrook.
Westbrook’s teammates came to his defense following the game. Raymond Felton, who did not play, sat near him on the bench when the altercation took place. Felton confirmed he also heard the taunts that had been directed at Westbrook.
“He’s not coming off and talking to the fans, just saying stuff to them and just blurting out words,” 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 what they want to say us during games and yell out stuff and talk about our families and talk about our kids.”
Westbrook finished with 23 points, 11 rebounds, and eight assists in 37 minutes.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.