Russell Westbrook’s popcorn incident earlier this week wasn’t the only fan altercation he’s had in his career, and the fallout from one high-profile issue came to light Thursday.
Utah Jazz fans’ $100 million lawsuit against the team was dismissed years after they were banned from watching the team at the Vivint Arena. The fans were banned over what were called racial taunts directed at Westbrook during the 2019 incident.
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Shane Keisel said there was nothing racial about the heckling directed toward Westbrook during the 2019 game. He said the incident cost him his job and opened him up to online threats. The Jazz said the team probed the incident and stood by the decision to prohibit him and Jennifer Huff from the venue.
At the time, Westbrook was fined $25,000 by the NBA after a video surfaced showing the former Oklahoma City Thunder guard directing vulgar comments to Keisel in the crowd. Westbrook said at the time he had been provoked by the fan who told him to “get down on your knees like you used to.”
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Keisel was banned the next day.
In the lawsuit against the Jazz, Keisel acknowledged heckling Westbrook but insisted he told him to “take care of his knees” because the guard had them wrapped in towels. He denied racial taunts.
Scott Hoyt, Keisel’s attorney, said his client intended to appeal the decision. Jazz attorney Jeff Hunt said the team was “pleased with the court’s ruling.”
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Westbrook, who now plays for the Washington Wizards, was subjected to more mistreatment on Wednesday when he had popcorn dumped on his hand. The Philadelphia 76ers banned the fan indefinitely.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.