SALT LAKE CITY — An angry Russell Westbrook delivered some choice words to Utah Jazz fans at Vivint Arena on Monday night.
While standing on the baseline during the first half of the Jazz versus Oklahoma City Thunder game, Westbrook was triggered by comments made by folks in attendance.
“I swear.... I’ll (expletive) you up,” Westbrook told Jazz fans. “You and your wife. I’ll (expletive) you up.”
However, prior to that, Westbrook claimed that fan and his wife yelled at him “to get down on your knees like you’re used to” which sent him over the edge. Thunder guard Raymond Felton also backed up Westbrook’s story as he witnessed the scene.
“To me that’s completely disrespectful to me,” Westbrook explained after Oklahoma City’s 98-89 win versus Utah. “I think it’s racial and I think it’s just inappropriate in a sense of there’s no protection for the players. I think there are a lot of great fans around the world who like to come to the game and enjoy the game.
“And there are people that come to the game to say mean, disrespectful things about me, my family. For many years, I’ve done all the right things, I’ve never done anything to hurt or harm anybody,” he continued. “I never been in any trouble, never fought a fan. I’ve been in the league 11 years, clean slate, humble. I take all the criticism from everybody. I’ve been doing the same thing for years and for me, disrespect will not be taken from me.
“I completely just sit back sometimes and just take it, like that’s just one video, but throughout the whole game, since I’ve been here, especially here in Utah, every time I come here it’s a lot of disrespectful things that’s said and for me, I’m just not going to continue to take the disrespect for my family and I just think that there’s got to be something done. There’s got to be some consequences for those type of people that come to the game just to say and do whatever they want to say and I don’t think it’s fair to the players,” he added. “Not just to me, but I don’t think it’s fair to the players and if I had to do it all over again, I would say the same exact thing because I truly will stand up for myself, for my family, for my kids, for my wife, for my mom, for my dad, every single time. I expect anybody else to do the same. So, that’s kind of where I’m at with the whole situation.”
This latest incident only adds to Westbrook’s ongoing beef with Utah fans. During the first round of the 2018 postseason, he also had two confrontations with Jazz fans in Vivint Arena where he stated “a lot of disrespectful, vulgar things are said to the players” in Salt Lake City following Game 6.
Five Jazz fans also received “warning cards” on Monday 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 for their altercation with the former MVP.
“As for beating up his wife, I’ve never put my hand on a woman. I never will,” Westbrook said. “Never been in any domestic violence before and never have before but once he said the comment, his wife repeated the same thing to me as well so that’s kind of how that started.
“I know you guys only got the tail end of the video, but the start of the video is way more important and way more disrespectful than what you guys heard.”
I know you guys only got the tail end of the video, but the start of the video is way more important and way more disrespectful than what you guys heard. – OKC guard Russell Westbrook
On a night where Westbrook passed Muggsy Bogues for 22nd on the all-time assists list with 23 points, eight assists and 11 rebounds to lead the Thunder to a fourth consecutive win versus Utah, his confrontation with hecklers is what stole the show. But Felton and Dennis Schroder feel that something should be done by the league to protect the players in those moments.
“It’s not right then everybody wants to make a big deal on what he said, but let’s talk about what they said to him first,” Felton said. “He’s not coming off and talking to the fans, just saying stuff to them and just blurting out words. He’s not. They’re coming at him first. When is it gonna be a point where they’re gonna be protecting us players?
“People can say whatever they want to us during the games and yell out stuff and talk about our families, talk about our kids, like we’ve got kids,” he added. “We are fathers and we have families and people can just blurt out what they want to say about us and that’s not fair. That’s not right.”
Monday’s Jazz-Thunder game with 18,306 fans also marked Utah’s 64th consecutive home sellout at Vivint Arena, which is the second-longest sellout streak in franchise history and longest in 26 years behind 229 games from 1988-93.
"We are continuing to investigate the unfortunate exchange at tonight’s game between Russell Westbrook and fans," the Utah Jazz said in a statement. "Multiple warning cards were issued by arena security. Players and fans have a shared responsibility to create a safe and respectful environment. If it is determined that any fans violated the NBA Code of Conduct, appropriate action will be taken."
KSL-TV's Jeremiah Jensen interviewed the fan involved in the verbal altercation with Westbrook.