Utah Jazz issue another lifetime ban, to the fan caught calling Russell Westbrook ‘boy’ during 2018 playoffs

(Rick Bowmer | AP) Oklahoma City Thunder's Russell Westbrook gets into a heated verbal altercation with fans in the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Utah Jazz, Monday, March 11, 2019, in Salt Lake City.

Earlier this week, the Jazz issued a lifetime ban to fan Shane Keisel, having determined that a viral video in which Thunder guard Russell Westbrook threatened to beat up Keisel and his wife had been precipitated by Keisel directing racially-tinged comments at Westbrook during Monday night’s game.

In the wake of the incident, Jazz owner Gail Miller reminded fans before Thursday’s game against the Wolves that, “We have a Code of Conduct in this arena. It will be strictly enforced.”

It didn’t take long for that warning to prove true.

In the wake of the Keisel incident, another troubling video surfaced this week, in which a Jazz fan, before Game 4 of the team’s 2018 first-round playoff series against the Thunder, can be repeatedly heard calling Westbrook “boy.” The team announced Friday that it has subsequently investigated the incident and issued a lifetime ban to that unnamed fan as well.

Jazz president Steve Starks told The Tribune on Friday the team would investigate prior violations and consider additional retroactive bans.

“We’ll need to look into every situation if there’s video evidence, if it’s clear they’ve violated the Code of Conduct. We would review any of those situations,” he said. “One of the things that people may not realize is that the renovation allowed us to be more aware of what’s going on in the arena. We have a command center where we can see every seat in the arena, and we have video. It’s not to spy on people, but it’s to make sure that we’re taking care of guest services issues.”

Before and throughout Thursday’s game, the Jazz periodically flashed a message across the Jumbotron screens in the arena, which stated: “No disruptive behavior. Obscene language or gestures, fighting, throwing objects, attempting to enter the court or interrupting play. Spectators engaging in such behavior are subject to ejection and other penalties, including a lifetime ban.”

Miller, meanwhile, delivered a heartfelt pregame statement in which she expressed dismay that Jazz fans’ behavior in general has been lumped in with that of Keisel: “This should never happen. We are not a racist community,” she said. “We believe in treating people with courtesy and respect as human beings.”

Miller also sent an email to fans before the game, spelling out precisely what will not be tolerated going forward: “We do not permit hate speech, racism, sexism or homophobia. We also do not allow disruptive behavior, including bullying, foul or abusive language, or obscene gestures.”

Starks, asked about the incident in which Westbrook was called “boy,” expressed disgust. He called upon fans who observe or hear such things to be vigilant in pointing them out to security (they can also call 801-901-8111), and promised the team would be vigilant as well.

“My reaction was a lot of disappointment, that one of our fans was using degrading language language, racist language. I was also disappointed that the people around the fan didn’t speak up in the moment,” Starks said. “They’re two isolated events, but it illustrates we need to be proactive in addressing this.”


At Vivint Smart Home Arena

Tipoff • Saturday, 7 p,m.

TV • AT&T SportsNet

Radio • 1280 AM, 97.5 FM

Records • Jazz 39-29; Nets 36-34

Previous meeting • Jazz, 101-91 (Nov. 28)

About the Jazz • Utah is coming off back-to-back victories over Phoenix and Minnesota to move into a tie for sixth place in the Western Conference. … Reserve point guard Dante Exum, who left Thursday’s game with right knee pain, has a torn patellar tendon and is out indefinitely. … The Jazz’s previous game against Brooklyn came just hours after the team completed the Alec Burks for Kyle Korver trade.

About the Nets • Since the All-Star break, Brooklyn has posted the best defensive rating in the NBA (103.8), but also the second-worst offensive rating (105.2). … The Nets were ninth in the league in 3-point percentage pre-All-Star break, but just 25th since. … All-Star guard D’Angelo Russell is averaging 20.2 points and 6.8 assists per game.