A Jazz fan has been banned for life from Vivint Smart Home Arena due to an “inappropriate interaction” with Russell Westbrook.
The Thunder star was captured on video screaming “I’ll f— you up, you and your wife” to hecklers Monday during Oklahoma City’s 98-89 win over the Jazz. 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 Tuesday. “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 human beings. This has always been a hallmark of our incredible fan base and should forever be our standard moving forward.”
Donovan Mitchell even spoke out about the incident.
Mitchell released a statement Tuesday 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.”
Donovan Mitchell’s statement on Russell Westbrook’s incident with Utah Jazz fans at Vivint Arena last night. pic.twitter.com/mJUhfSeQeU
— Eric Woodyard (@E_Woodyard) March 12, 2019
Five Jazz fans were reportedly given “warning cards” for their inappropriate actions during the dispute. But they were able to return to their seats once the problem was addressed.
According to Westbrook and his teammates, he was told to “get down” on his knees during gameplay. But it appears there may have been more to the insults, given Utah’s response.
Fans can say shit 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.
— Patrick Patterson (@pdpatt) March 12, 2019
Westbrook was fined $25,000 for “directing profanity and threatening language to a fan.”