The Utah Jazz have permanently banned a fan who provoked a social media firestorm after a heated and apparently racist exchange with Russell Westbrook, the team announced Tuesday.
The fan, Shane Keisel, said earlier Tuesday he would file a lawsuit against Westbrook, claiming he has received death threats and that his comments weren’t racist, according to KSL TV.
The verbal altercation Monday night was caught on video and went viral. In the video, Westbrook could be heard shouting toward the stands: “I’ll f–k you up. You and your wife.”
But Westbrook told reporters after the Thunder’s 98-89 win that he was responding to what he thought were racist comments.
“A young man and his wife in the stands told me to ‘get down on my knees like I’m used to,’” said Westbrook, whom the NBA fined $25,000 for directing profanity and threatening language to a fan. “For me, that’s just completely disrespectful. I think it’s racial.”
Keisel, on the other hand, has claimed it began as playful banter, according to KSL TV. He said he told Westbrook to “sit down and ice your knees, bro.”
The Jazz, in a statement, said they had investigated the incident through video review and eyewitness accounts and decided to ban “the fan who engaged in the inappropriate interaction.”
“Everyone deserves the opportunity to enjoy and play the game in a safe, positive and inclusive environment,” Utah Jazz president Steve Starks said in a statement.
“Offensive and abusive behavior does not reflect the values of the Miller family, our organization and the community. We all have a responsibility to respect the game of basketball and, more importantly, each other as a human being. This has always been a hallmark of our incredible fan base and should forever be our standard moving forward.”
Other NBA players, including the Thunder’s Raymond Felton and Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell, have come to Westbrook’s defense.
“As a black man living in a community I love, and playing on a team that gives me the opportunity to live out my dreams, this incident hits close to home,” Mitchell wrote in a statement to the Deseret News. “Racism and hate speech hurts us all, and this is not the first time something like this has happened in our arena.”
Keisel has denied anything he said was racist.
“We were just two men, I thought, having fun initially,” he said. “It turned to, I mean, the guy is f–king everything. He’s just a classless dude.”
But it didn’t take long for internet sleuths to find what they said were racist posts written by Keisel on his Twitter account, complicating the incident. These included screenshots of a post critical of Colin Kaepernick and another referring to a shanty town in an unidentified country as a “s–thole.”
Keisel told KSL TV that nobody around him had directed racist remarks at Westbrook and that he’s been advised to shut down his social media accounts.
“I don’t care,” he said. “He can threaten me all he wants. I was the one talking to him … but don’t threaten a woman. She’s 5 feet tall and 110 pounds, man. Never said a word to him.”
Source: Read Full Article