NBA fans shouldn’t be yelling at professional NBA players. But according to the NBA, even if fans are going to provoke players, players are not allowed to respond the way that Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook did on Monday night during a game against the Utah Jazz.
To that end, Westbrook has been fined $25,000 by the league office after he told a fan that, ““I’ll f—k you up. You and your wife.”
The fan, Shane Keisel, is apparently going to file a lawsuit against Westbrook for threatening him and his wife. However, an investigation by the Jazz organization confirmed Westbrook’s account of what happened between him and Keisel.
Keisel has since been permanently banned from all future Utah games. It’s hard to say how far his lawsuit will go.
The fact that the NBA has to fin Westbrook at all is sort of the bummer. On one hand, NBA players are supposed to keep a kind of decorum as professional entertainers. Players are supposed to be cool-headed compared to the kinds of goobers that inhabit a lot of NBA arenas (particularly the ones with over-inflated senses of self down in the expensive seats).
But the fact that fans can overtly provoke players like Westbrook to an extent that is completely uncharitable — so much so that a team bans that fan from its arena — sort of makes you wonder if it was necessary to fine Westbrook.
It’s hard to think that anyone would side with Keisel in this case, and thus Westbrook’s response while certainly extreme, it probably felt justified by many watching. The NBA is just trying to mitigate its public relations response at this point, so the fine seems perfunctory.
Twenty five thousand dollars is not that much money for Westbrook, but hopefully it doesn’t sting emotionally. Keisel will never be able to watch a Jazz game in person again, and everyone would like to put this whole thing behind them.