Much as top dollar tickets will get you within breathing distance of some of the highest-paid basketballers on the planet, there’s still a responsibility on fans sitting courtside at NBA games to just… y’know… not be a dick. But while the occasional verbal clap back from a superstar pushed too far is more than understandable, you can’t but think Russell Westbrook may have gone just a shade too far here.
Westbrook and the Oklahoma City Thunder are in Utah taking on the Jazz; an arena that’s already put Westbrook in the firing line thanks to a few unruly fans.
But during today’s game, it seems Westbrook pushed things a little too far in snapping back to one unidentified punter.
Footage from inside the Vivant Smart Home Arena shows Westbrook, on the bench during the game, verbally taunting the fan and exclaiming “I swear to god, I’ll fuck you up. You and your wife.“
After the game, local-area media found the fan in question – a man by the name of Shane Keisel – who claimed he never swore at Westbrook and the outburst, particularly the one directed at his wife, seemingly came out of the blue.
Shane Keisel, the Jazz fan who was involved in a verbal altercation with Russell Westbrook during the Jazz loss to the Thunder, explains his side of what happened. @KSL5TV @kslsports #nba pic.twitter.com/ScCSRttTCg— Jeremiah Jensen (@JJSportsBeat) March 12, 2019
It’s by no means Westbrook’s first run-in with Utah fans inside the Jazz’s home arena. During last year’s playoff series, Westbrook was involved in a number of heated exchanges with Jazz fans. At the time, Westbrook described the level of banter being thrown around by Jazz fans as “disrespectful” and “vulgar.”
Tonight wasn't the first time Russell Westbrook has had a heated exchange with fans in Utah.— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) March 12, 2019
Here’s what happened in the playoffs last year: pic.twitter.com/GLXMxppj1x
Regardless of how the NBA chooses to handle this particular incident, it doesn’t seem to have had any immediate effect on the game; OKC still managed to run out 98 – 89 winners, with Westbrook himself dropping a near-triple double.
But no matter what, it’s unquestionable: This isn’t a good look for anyone, fan or player.