Russell Westbrook Explains ‘Racial’ Heckling Led Him to Threaten Fan and His Wife at OKC Game
Westbrook, a point guard for the Oklahoma City Thunder, was on the sidelines March 11 when he was captured on video vowing to a basketball fan, “I’ll f— you up!”
The Deseret News reporter Eric Woodyard tweeted the video Monday night.
“Not sure what these fans said to him, but he also had issues with Jazz fans during the postseason,” Woodyard said in part. Two incidents occurred last April during the playoffs. Both times during Game 6, Westbrook largely kept the verbal confrontations quick, although he swatted at the hand of a second Jazz fan following OKC’s disappointing loss.
This time, however, the guard didn’t spare any time going after a Jazz aficionado.
“I promise you. You think I’m playing?” he says. “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 — everything I love — I promise you.”
Things get heated between Russell Westbrook and Utah Jazz fans again. “I’ll f*ck you up. You and your wife,” he says. Not sure what these fans said to him, but he also had issues with Jazz fans during the postseason. pic.twitter.com/LquwRmLVNy
— Eric Woodyard (@E_Woodyard) March 12, 2019
Westbrook explained what set him off to reporters at a news conference after the 98-89 OKC victory.
“[A] young man and his wife in the stands told me to get down on your knees like you’re used to. And for me that’s just completely disrespectful to me,” he says. “I think it’s racial. I think it’s just inappropriate in a sense of there’s no protection for the players. I think there are a lot of great fans around the world that like to come to the game and enjoy the game. Then there are people who come to the game to say mean, disrespectful things about me, my family.
“For me, disrespect will not be taken,” he added, doubling down on his response to his actions after Game 6 of the playoffs last year. “Since I’ve been here — especially here in Utah — every time I come here, it’s a lot of disrespectful things that’s said.”
Westbrook also addressed threatening the fan’s wife.
“I’ve never put my hands on a woman, never will, never been in any domestic violence, never have before,” he explained. “But once he said the comment, his wife repeated it, the same thing to me, as well. That’s kind of how that started.”
Russell Westbrook says the comment from the Jazz fan that set him off was: “Get down on your knees like you’re used to.” pic.twitter.com/i0vIlblSwJ
— Tim MacMahon (@espn_macmahon) March 12, 2019
Meanwhile, the fan in question has been identified.
His name is Shane Keisel, and he maintains he did not command the NBA star to get on his knees. Instead, Keisel claims he told Westbrook, “Sit down and ice your knees, bro’.”
“Me and him, we were actually kind of having fun, to be honest,” he tells KSL sports anchor Jeremiah Jensen after the game. “I just told him, ‘just sit down and ice your knees, bro’.’ And he turned to me and is like, ‘That’s heat. That’s heat.’ And I’m like, ‘Well, you’re gonna need it.’ And then it turned into not safe for the work.”
He added that he never uttered a cussword to Westbrook, and Keisel said his wife, Jen, sat silently in her seat with her hands in her lap the entire time.
“He’s classless,” Keisel adds.
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
However, Westbrook’s teammates deny Keisel’s claims.
Guard Raymond Felton backed up Westbrook’s comments about the fan’s remarks when speaking to reporters.
“That was absurd, what they said to Russ,” Felton said. “That’s not fair, that’s not right. This ain’t the first thing that’s happened. It happened in Portland. … Everybody want to make a big deal out of what he said, but let’s talk about what they said first. He’s not coming off and talking to the fans just saying stuff to ’em.”
Forward/center Patrick Patterson also supported his teammate. He tweeted, “Fans can say s— about a mans family, wife, & kids.. Tell a player ‘Get down on your knees like your use to.’ As men, what do you expect us to do? Shut up & dribble? No one is held accountable for their actions except for us. Fans are protected in every way possible but not us.”
When asked if that’s what the fan said to Westbrook, Patterson replied, “Yes. And more.”
It remains to be seen exactly what kind of punishment if any the NBA hands down to Westbrook. Meanwhile, the Jazz said in a statement that they’ve issued “multiple warning cards” to fans in the arena and is investigating.
“Players and fans have a shared responsibility to create a safe and respectful environment,” the statement read. “If it is determined that any fans violated the NBA Code of Conduct, appropriate action will be taken.”