Oklahoma City’s All-Star Point Guard Russell Westbrook was allegedly on the receiving end of some “completely disrespectful” comments. This has now become a full-blown he-said-she-said narrative. Both Westbrook and the fan have very different stories about what happened.
During the second quarter, Westbrook was toward the end of the bench when a fan allegedly said to “get down on your knees like your used to.” Westbrook said that he took these comments as a racial offense.
Westbrook went on to say, “For me, I’m just not going to continue to take disrespect for my family. 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. 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.”
The fan, 45-year-old Shane Keisel, claims that he was just joking with Westbrook, saying that the encounter “started off as fun.” Keisel also went on to say that it’s time to expose Westbrook for being a “big man” after threatening his wife.
Who’s in the wrong?
No one may never truly know. A lot of the evidence is pointing to Westbrook being in the right.
Westbrook’s teammate, Raymond Felton, came to his aid and confirmed that his side of the story is true.
Keisel also claimed that he said nothing bad about Westbrook. But there are racially charged and profanity-laced tweets that were screenshot before Keisel had the chance to delete his Twitter account. One tweet saying, “Westbrook is a piece of classless s—. Somebody needs to kick his a–. #tool #poorloser” and another, “Russell Westbrook needs to go back where he came from! #MAGA” These tweets certainly hurt his credibility seeing as he is willing to Tweet these things. There is a potentially fake Twitter account out there now though. If it is fake Keisel could use that to defend himself against some backlash.
Other players have spoken about the atmosphere in Utah as well. There is the controversial case of a fan making fun of Derek Fisher’s daughter who was diagnosed with cancer.
Stephen Jackson said, “Well, we’re not hearing racial slurs, we’re not hearing people wishing for me to go to jail. That’s the difference for me. I’m loved here in Oakland.”
Jason Richardson said, ” That was something new. It shocked all of us. We weren’t expecting that. I mean, [Jazz fans] were trying to get into our heads any way they can, but I couldn’t believe anybody would stoop that low. It’s nonsense.”
Who’s to blame?
At some point, the administration needs to realize the pattern that players are seeing here. Simply handing out warning cards isn’t enough anymore. If a fan is seen or heard doing anything that crosses a line the stadium should remove them immediately. Someone needs to be made an example of, and last night could have been the perfect opportunity.
This is not the first time Westbrook has had run ins with fans. Last year he had some encounters with other Jazz fans after a Game 6 loss in the playoff’s, exchanging words with one fan and slapping a phone out of the hand of another.
There is an obvious difference in the way players are treated in Utah than in other NBA stadiums. Its time Utah takes a good look into how they can improve themselves from the inside.
Obviously, one fan should not represent all of Utah, but there seems to be a pattern here. One the organization should be monitoring closely.
As facts continue to come out about this incident we will get a more clear picture of what truly happened. Until then this fan should be banned from games and there should be a very low tolerance for fans crossing the line.