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SALT LAKE CITY — A Utah man wants to clear the air about Jazz fans.
This after Russell Westbrook got in his face Friday night, slapping his hand, as he was taking video of the last seconds of the Jazz clinching the first-round of the NBA playoff series against the Oklahoma City Thunder on his cell phone.
The moment, caught on live television, is going viral.
Chad Linebaugh says Utah fans are special. They’re loud and passionate, but they’re respectful. The opposite of Westbrook’s claim in his post-game interview when he was asked about the interaction. Westbrook said, “Here in Utah, a lot of disrespectful, vulgar things are said to the players … It’s truly disrespectful.”
Now Linebaugh is sharing and showing his side of the story.
“The clip I have is about 15 seconds at the end of the game showing that the Jazz win. Many of Westbrook’s teammates walk right by us. I’m naturally kind of filming them. Then (Westbrook) walks by. Again, I didn’t say anything to him and he simply turned and kind-of aggressively actually hit my hand that had the phone in it,” he said.
“You felt his hand touch you?” asked KSL News Specialist Caitlin Burchill.
“Yeah, for literally the next few minutes, I could feel. He slapped me pretty good on the hand. I’d call it a slap, it wasn’t a hit or punch. It was a slap,” said Linebaugh.
He and his wife had great seats. It was a great win, but walking into Vivint Arena you don’t expect having that kind of interaction with a player.
“There is really just one reason why I wanted to do this interview. It’s not that I’m looking for exposure or, you know, financial gain or anything like that. It’s truly, I just want the public to understand, in my opinion, the other side of the story,” said Linebaugh.
Linebaugh says he won’t hold this against Westbrook, but like a true team player, he wants to stick up for his people – Jazz fans.
“Everything that I heard and saw was, was appropriate. It wasn’t profanities. And to that end, Utah we’re a state where we welcome everybody. We embrace everybody. We hope that Russell Westbrook will come back to Utah,” said Linebaugh.