Westbrook Caught On Video During Apparent Run-In With Jazz Fan
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Oklahoma City Thunder star Russell Westbrook was captured on video, berating, swearing at and threatening to fight a Utah Jazz fan and his wife in Salt Lake City.
It was unclear what caused Westbrook’s outburst, but the former league MVP was allegedly shown having some sort of disagreement with a fan in a profanity-ridden tirade.
At the beginning of the video, Westbrook voiced his displeasure with the fan to a person off camera, peppering in plenty of expletives. He then turned to address the fan, who was also off-camera, and “promised” to inflect harm on the fan and his wife.
It wasn’t the first time Westbrook has gotten into it with fans at Vivint Smart Home Arena. Following the Thunder’s game six loss to Utah in the first round of the playoffs last season, he snapped at a fan as he was leaving the court.
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“I don’t confront fans. Fans confront me,” Westbrook said after the incident in April. “Here in Utah, man, a lot of disrespectful, vulgar things are said to the players here with these fans. It’s truly disrespectful. (They) talk about your families, your kids. It’s just a disrespect to the game and I think it’s something that needs to be brought up.”
Fan Speaks Out
In an exclusive interview with KSL Sports’ Jeremiah Jensen, the fan who received the scathing verbal attack, Shane Keisel, spoke after the game on what happened between he and Westbrook.
According to Keisel, the outburst began soon after Thunder forward Paul George was accidentally hit in the face by the Jazz’s Joe Ingles in the first half. At the time, Westbrook was on the bench, with heat packs on his knees. He became irate at some chiding from Keisel and other Jazz fans.
Keisel claimed that the banter coming from him was innocent, and did not involve any profanity nor comments in poor taste. Yet, for some reason, Westbrook snapped.
“We were actually having fun, I’ll be honest,” said Keisel. “He was smiling at one point.”
The smile soon turned to a look of anger as Westbrook began tearing into Keisel. Threats and strong language soon followed. While Westbrook threatened to do harm to Keisel and his wife, Keisel’s wife remained motionless and speechless, with her hands in her lap.
“Initially, I said, ‘I’m talking to Westbrook.’ He’s one of the greats,” said Keisel. “But he’s also classless.”
Keisel said Oklahoma City’s Steven Adams came and patted him on the back while he was speaking with the officials, perhaps in a gesture of support.
What really angered Keisel, he said, was that Westbrook threatened his wife, who was attending her first NBA game.
“He can threaten me all he wants – I was the one talking to him – but don’t threaten a woman,” he said.
Once Westbrook threatened his wife, Keisel said he had enough, telling him twice to come up the stairs and meet him face-to-face.
At that point, Keisel was whisked away to the arena tunnel, where he was given a verbal and written warning from league officials.
While the entire encounter took place, another fan, who declined an interview, was recording Westbrook’s tirade on his phone. He offered to send it to Keisel, who accepted. From there it was sent to KSL and picked up by major NBA Twitter users. The video went viral in a matter of minutes.
A huge sports fan, Keisel called this experience at Vivint Smart Home Arena, a low point.
When asked what he expects to happen to Westbrook, all Keisel said he wanted was an apology to his wife.
“(At the) end of the day, he needs to be held accountable for his actions,” said Keisel, who said his written warning from the league would soon be framed in his house.
The Utah Jazz released a statement after the game, stating that they are investigating the incident.
Westbrook’s Side Of The Story
After the game, Westbrook spoke with the media and explained what happened from his point of view.
According to the former league MVP, Keisel shouted at Westbrook and told him to, “get on his knees like he used to.”
“For me, that’s just completely disrespectful,” said Westbrook, who gave his statement and did not take questions from the media.
Oklahoma City backup point guard and longtime NBA veteran Raymond Felton had thoughts on the incident between Westbrook and the fan, as well as the protection of the players.