Russell Westbrook Fined $25K for Using Profanity, Threatening Language at Fan

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistMarch 12, 2019

Oklahoma City Thunder's Russell Westbrook gets into a heated verbal altercation with fans in the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Utah Jazz, Monday, March 11, 2019, in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
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.

Utah Jazz @utahjazz

Statement from the Utah Jazz: https://t.co/L3eYolvrpq

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:

Donovan Mitchell @spidadmitchell

We have to do better... we will do better! 💯 https://t.co/heBO4z66TY

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.