Russell Westbrook and Jazz fans seated next to the Thunder bench were involved in a verbal altercation during Monday’s game at Vivint Smart Home Arena, some of which was caught on video by another fan.
"I swear to god, I’ll f--- you up. You and your wife, I’ll f--- you up. Promise you on everything I love, I promise you,” Westbrook says to a fan on the video.
In a statement delivered after the game, Westbrook and his teammates said that the fan had told Westbrook "to get down on my knees like you used to.”
“How it started was, a young man and his wife in the stands told me ‘to get down on my knees like you used to.’ To me, that’s just completely disrespectful, to me, I think it’s racial, and I think it’s inappropriate,” Westbrook said.
He said that the NBA and its arenas need to do more to curtail fan abuse thrown in the direction of players.
“I just think that there’s gotta be something done, there’s gotta 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,” Westbrook said.
KSL-TV interviewed the fan, Shane Keisel, who delivered the barb. Keisel, though, says Westbrook misunderstood what Keisel yelled.
“He had, I guess, heat. I thought it was ice," Keisel said, adding that he told Westbrook to “sit down and ice your knees, bro.”
Keisel continued: “And then he said, ‘That’s heat.” And I said ‘You’re going to need it.’ And then it turned not safe for work.”
Westbrook took no questions from reporters about the incident (or the game), only delivering a 3-minute long statement.
“If I had to do it over again, I would say the same exact thing. I truly will stand up for myself and my family and my wife and my mom and my dad every single time, I expect anybody else to do the same,” Westbrook said.
And Westbrook wanted to explain why he threatened Keisel’s wife as well. “As for beating up his wife, I’ve never put my hand on a woman, I never will. Never been in any domestic violence before. But once he said the comment, and his wife repeated the same thing as well,” Westbrook said. “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.”
Westbrook’s full statement can be found here.
“We are continuing to investigate the unfortunate exchange at tonight’s game between Russell Westbrook and fans. Multiple warning cards were issued by arena security,” the Jazz said in a statement. “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.”
This isn’t the first time Westbrook and Utah fans have interacted like this. After Utah’s Game 6 win over Oklahoma City, Westbrook also said he received unfair abuse from fans in Salt Lake City.
“Uh, I didn’t confront the fans. The fans confronted me,” he said then. “Here in Utah, a lot of disrespectful, vulgar things are said to the players here with these fans. They are truly disrespectful, talking about your families, your kids. It is a disrespect to the game and I think it is something that needs to be brought up.”