SALT LAKE CITY — Russell Westbrook already didn’t like Utah fans. And his opinion sure isn’t going to change after Monday night’s win.
During the second quarter of the Thunders’ 98-89 win over the Jazz, the Thunder All-Star was standing at the end of the Oklahoma City bench when he said he heard a fan tell to him to “get down on your knees like you’re used to.”
That was enough for Westbrook to turn to the crowd and unleash a profanity-laced tirade toward the fan.
In a video sent to KSL, Westbrook is seen not only cursing at but threatening a fan and his wife.
“I promise you. I’m not playing," he said on the video.
It was just the latest confrontation between Westbrook and the Utah crowd. Last season, during the first round of the playoffs, Westbrook had a couple of dust-ups with Jazz fans, even swiping at one as he was leaving the arena.
He said then that “a lot of disrespectful, vulgar things are said to the players here with these fans.” But none of those triggered him like what he heard on Monday.
“To me, that’s just completely disrespectful, to me, I think it’s racial, and I think it’s just inappropriate,” Westbrook said following Monday’s game.
OKC point guard Raymond Felton, who was sitting near Westbrook on the bench when the incident occurred, backed up Westbrook’s account.
“Sometimes you respond, we are human, respond in the wrong way and say the wrong words,” Felton said. “And yeah you think about it later, but in the moment, you don't care because you are mad, you are upset because someone just disrespected you as a man.”
“If I had to do it over again, I would say the same exact thing.” pic.twitter.com/o4SWRQuQKs— Ryan Miller (@millerjryan) March 12, 2019
But given time to think about it, Westbrook doesn’t think he would have responded any differently.
“I’m not going to continue to take disrespect for my family,” he said. “I just think there has to be something done. There has to be some consequences for those type of people that come to the games just to say and do whatever they want to say. I don't think that’s fair to the players.
“If I had to do it again, I would say the same exact thing,” he continued. “I truly will stand up for myself, 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. That’s kind of where I’m at with the whole situation.”
On each seat near the court, the Jazz place a card with the NBA’s Fan Code of Conduct on it. Part of that code reads that “guests will enjoy the basketball experience free from disruptive behavior, including foul or abusive language or obscene gestures.”
The fan on the receiving end of Westbrook’s disgust, Shane Keisel, said he didn’t break that code — or say what Westbrook has accused him of saying.
“I never said a swear word to him. Everybody in the vicinity would say (the same thing), and she never left her seat, said a word, and put her hands in her lap," Keisel told KSL TV. "Never said a swear word. Not one.”
Keisel said that he did mention Westbrook’s knees, but not in the way the Thunder All-Star remembers. Keisel said that he told Westbrook to “sit down and ice” them.
The Jazz said that they are continuing to investigate the exchange and if they find that any fans violated the NBA Code of Conduct, action will be taken. The Jazz did hand out five written warnings on Monday, but there were no ejections made.