Nobody was happy with how things ended between Russell Westbrook and a Utah Jazz fan last week. After an incident between Westbrook and the fan drew national attention, Westbrook was fined $25,000 by the NBA and the fan was ejected and banned from all future home Jazz games.
The entire Utah organization has needed to take an inward look at itself, and its response has been significant. Jazz general manager Dennis Lindsey spoke to USA today’s Jeff Zillgitt about his experience growing up in a home that had kids of all backgrounds and races.
Via USA Today:
“White, black, Hispanic, Asian, you name the race, I literally was in a house with 10-12 disadvantaged kids,” Lindsey said. “The thing I would say to this matter when you live with someone in closer quarters, you realize there’s one race — the human race. That’s what we need to be talking about. That’s our national discussion and we just need to admit where it’s at and where our hearts are. A lot of it is fear and ignorance.”
Lindsey went on to talk about an experience he had where childhood friend Melvin Hunt, an assistant coach with the Atlanta Hawks, told Lindsey about Hunt’s mother passing in a car accident. In that moment, Lindsey remarked, they were just two human beings trying to comfort each other.
According to the Salt Lake Tribune, the Utah owner Gail Miller also decided to reach out to fans and ask them to understand the parameters of attending a game at Vivint Smart Home Arena. Miller addressed fans before their game on Thursday, and the email made its way around social media on Thursday, where a user on Reddit decided to post it in its entirety.
It read, in part:
We do not permit hate speech, racism, sexism or homophobia. We also do not allow disruptive behavior, including bullying, foul or abusive language, or obscene gestures. Violators may be subject to ejection and other penalties, including a lifetime ban.
Now, let us be clear: we want you to be loud. You’re the reason we have the best home-court advantage in the league, and we want to keep it that way. We have a unique arena that provides the crowd with close proximity to the court and an increased ability to affect the game. Players and coaches on both teams can hear you, and we expect all fans to respect them—as well as the game officials, arena employees, and other fans at the arena.
The Jazz also reportedly reached out to all of the other teams in the NBA asking them to draft notices for fans so that they are reminded of what is appropriate inside the doorways of an arena.
Remember: Don’t touch NBA players, and if you can help it, don’t yell at them. You’re not going to change anything about their performance, save for a very loud chorus of noise on the road, and you’re going to annoy everyone around you. Plus, you might get ejected from your home arena for life.