The Utah Jazz announced on Thursday that they had banned three fans for improper conduct during Game 2 of the team’s playoff series with the Memphis Grizzlies on Wednesday night. Now we have more information regarding the allegations that led to the bans.
Ja Morant’s father Tee told ESPN that one fan made a sexually explicit remark to his wife. He says another fan told him “I’ll put a nickel in your back and watch you dance, boy.” A third fan was ejected for yelling “shut the f— up, b—-,” to Morant’s mother. The article does not say what, if anything, Morant’s family said. However, Tee told ESPN that they had friendly banter with many of the other fans sitting around them. He also said that those examples went well beyond heckling.
The Jazz issued the following statement.
“The Utah Jazz have zero tolerance for offensive or disruptive behavior. An incident occurred last night involving a verbal altercation during Game 2. Arena security staff intervened, and the investigation resulted in the removal and banning of three Jazz fans indefinitely,” the team said.
“We apologize to all who were impacted by this unfortunate incident and condemn unacceptable fan behavior. The Utah Jazz are committed to ensuring a safe and respectful environment.”
Morant was pleased with the ban and said on Twitter “my family should be able cheer for me & my teammates without getting inappropriate s— said to them” (edited by LBS for profanity).
Both Ja and his father seemed to feel like things went well overall with the other fans, with the exception of the three who were banned.
my family told me they felt the love from all the other jazz fans who were around them even bought each other drinks with a few.
I thought that ladies hair was that thing they do to people on tv where they goof on your melon with a funhouse mirror. That’s her goin’ out helmet? I stopped caring about the game and need specifics on that as a look.
Jazz digital media reporter Eric Woodyard shared a video on Tuesday night that he says came before Game 4 of last year’s first-round playoff series between the Thunder and Jazz. Westbrook was called “boy” by a fan. He seemed to tell the fan not to do it. Then after a fan repeated it, Westbrook appeared to call security over.
To Russell Westbrook’s defense, here is even further proof of his previous interactions with Utah Jazz fans. In this video, @russwest44 is called a “boy” by a Jazz fan ahead of Game 4 of OKC’s first-round playoff series against Utah on April 23, 2018 at Vivint Arena. pic.twitter.com/lc6slA7fTo
Westbrook was very sensible and reasonable in his approach that time. He seems to be willing to engage with fans and also frequently alerts security when he feels something bad is said. Perhaps he felt what was said on Monday was so out of line that he took the nuclear option, which was to threaten the fan.
Russell Westbrook got into a verbal altercation with a fan during a game in Utah earlier this week, and Jazz superstar Donovan Mitchell is speaking out against the inappropriate behavior from some fans that led to the exchange.
In a statement he released on Tuesday, Mitchell said he is “personally hurt” by the incident and does not want visiting players or players who might play for the Jazz in the future to feel what happened is a reflection on the fanbase as a whole.
Donovan Mitchell’s statement on Russell Westbrook’s incident with Utah Jazz fans at Vivint Arena last night. pic.twitter.com/mJUhfSeQeU
“Racism and hate speech hurts us all, and this is not the first time something like this has happened at our arena,” Mitchell said.
Mitchell said he is committed to working with the Jazz and the NBA to make the Vivint Smart Home Arena “a place where all fans and players are welcome.”
A video initially showed Westbrook threatening to “f– up” a fan and his wife after the couple had heckled him during Monday night’s game. There was no context in the video, but Westbrook later told reporters he felt what the fans said to him was “disrespectful” and “racial.” The fan said he was jabbing Westbrook about having wraps on his knees late in the game, and the fan apparently said something about Westbrook getting down on his knees.
Westbrook said that he found the comment to be “disrespectful,” “inappropriate,” and “racial.”
Westbrook lamented the lack of protection for players from inappropriate fans.
“There’s gotta be something done, there’s gotta be some consequences for those type of people that come to the game just to say whatever they want to say,” Westbrook said. “I don’t think it’s fair to the players. If I had to do it over again, I would say the exact same thing.”
Westbrook also said he never has nor never will put his hands on a woman. What led him to say he would f— up the wife too was her repeating what her husband had said.
Here’s fan Shane Keisel’s side of what happened. He said he did not curse, though he acknowledged that what he said would not be appropriate to share on TV. He seemed to provide context for his remark, saying he was jabbing Westbrook about having wraps on his knees late in the game, and he said the two were having an exchange.
Both parties were inappropriate and out of line. Heckling is part of sports, but Keisel crossed a line with his remark telling Westbrook to get on his knees. Westbrook also went too far in his response, because players should not be threatening fans and making them feel unsafe to attend events.
The Jazz have issued a statement saying they are investigating the exchange.
Russell Westbrook continues to have an extremely strained relationship with Utah Jazz fans and ventured into unprofessional territory on Monday night.
During the Oklahoma City Thunder’s 98-89 win over the Jazz, Westbrook got into it with some fans. He was captured on video by Jazz digital reporter Eric Woodyard threatening to f— up some fans.
The video contains profanity, so beware if you watch it.
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
Woodyard says the fans received warnings for their conduct but were not ejected from the game.
Five Utah Jazz fans received "warning cards" that their comments, gestures and/or behaviors directed at players were in violation of the NBA Fan Code of Conduct, but were able to return to their seats after their altercation with Russell Westbrook.
Westbrook had a lot to be frustrated about. The season that began with so much optimism after the acquisitions of Paul George and Carmelo Anthony ended with a first-round playoff loss. Westbrook went 18 of 43 for 46 points, while George was just 2-for-16. He was definitely on edge.
Russell Westbrook snapped on a Utah Jazz fan who appeared to be taunting him, causing the fan to back down quickly.
The Oklahoma City Thunder guard was heading into the locker room. As he approached the tunnel, a Jazz fan leaned over and appeared to yell something that set Westbrook off. The fan likely was not expecting a reaction and backed away quickly after Westbrook turned towards him and said something in response.