Jazz fan banned for life after 'inappropriate interaction' with Westbrook
A Utah Jazz fan has been banned for life from Vivint Smart Home Arena due to an "inappropriate interaction" with Russell Westbrook.
The Oklahoma City Thunder star was captured on video screaming "I'll f*** you up, you and your wife" to hecklers during Oklahoma City's 98-89 win over the Jazz on Monday.
Utah investigated the exchange between Westbrook and one spectator in particular, and it decided the fan would not be welcome back at the arena in the future.
"Everyone deserves the opportunity to enjoy and play the game in a safe, positive and inclusive environment," Jazz president Steve Starks said on Tuesday.
"Offensive and abusive behaviour does not reflect the values of the Miller family, our organisation and the community. We all have a responsibility to respect the game of basketball and, more importantly, each other as human beings. This has always been a hallmark of our incredible fan base and should forever be our standard moving forward."
Statement from the Utah Jazz: pic.twitter.com/L3eYolvrpq— Utah Jazz (@utahjazz) March 12, 2019
Jazz star Donovan Mitchell even spoke out about the incident.
Mitchell released a statement via the Deseret News, saying he was "deeply hurt" by the exchange and promised to help improve the environment in NBA arenas moving forward.
"I am personally hurt by the incident at the game on March 11th," Mitchell said. "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."
"Racism and hate speech hurts us all, and this is not the first time something like this has happened in our arena," he continued. "The Utah that I have come to love is welcoming and inclusive and last night's incident is not indicative of our fanbase. We don't want to create a negative reputation for athletes who potentially may want to come to Utah."
According to Westbrook and his team-mates, he was told to "get down" on his knees during gameplay.
Westbrook was fined $25,000 for "directing profanity and threatening language to a fan".