Rick Bowmer/Associated Press
The NBA announced Tuesday that Oklahoma City Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook has been fined $25,000 for “directing profanity and threatening language to a fan” after a confrontation between Westbrook and a pair of Utah Jazz fans Monday evening.
Howard Beck @HowardBeck
Westbrook has been fined $25k for confrontation w/fan in Utah. https://t.co/Cc3uPAzKsQ
The fan in the incident, Shane Keisel, was issued a lifetime ban by the Jazz after Westbrook said Keisel told him to “get down on your knees like you’re used to,” which Westbrook interpreted as racially charged remarks, according to Tim MacMahon of ESPN.com.
After Keisel and his wife made those remarks during the game, Westbrook responded angrily, per MacMahon’s report:
“‘I’m going to tell you one thing: I’ll f— him up if he says that s— again. I promise you,’ Westbrook said to a security guard behind the bench at the beginning of the video posted to Twitter. Westbrook then looks toward Keisel. ‘I promise you. You think I’m playing. I swear to God, I swear to God, I’ll f— you up. You and your wife, I’ll f— you up.
“‘I promise you, on everything I love. On everything I love, n—-, I promise you.'”
Keisel said he didn’t say anything derogatory to prompt Westbrook’s reaction, though Oklahoma City guard Raymond Felton disputed that account.
“That’s just not right for Russ to have to deal with that when they said something to him first and they said something totally disrespectful,” he said. “I heard it. I’m standing right there. I heard it. That’s not right. That’s all I’m saying. That’s not right.”
Utah players also defended Westbrook. Thabo Sefolosha spoke out on his behalf on Instagram, while Donovan Mitchell took to Twitter to decry the actions of Keisel:
Nonetheless, Westbrook’s threats toward Keisel prompted the league office to issue him a fine. But the incident brought to the forefront once again the treatment of players by fans and the lines that are often crossed when fans choose to heckle athletes, an issue exacerbated in the NBA since the fans sit even closer to the action than in other sports.