Matt Eppers USA TODAY
Published 10:48 PM EDT Mar 14, 2019
The Utah Jazz played their first home game Thursday night since Russell Westbrook's explosive confrontation with a fan earlier this week. Before the game against the Minnesota Timberwolves, team owner Gail Miller spoke to the crowd at Vivint Smart Home Arena and addressed the incident.
Speaking from prepared remarks, Miller said she was extremely disappointed that one of our quote 'fans' conducted himself in such a way as to offend not only a guest in our arena, but also me personally, my family, our organization, the community, our players and you, as the best fans in the NBA.
Miller condemned the fan's actions and encouraged fans to police themselves. She also emphasized the NBA's code of conduct for fans and said it would be strictly enforced.
This should never happen. We are not a racist community, Miller said. We believe in treating people with courtesy and respect as human beings. From time to time, individual fans exhibit poor behavior and forget their manners and disrespect players on other teams. When that happens, I want you to jump up and shout 'Stop.' We have a code of conduct in this arena. It will be strictly enforced.
During Monday night's game against the Oklahoma City Thunder, Westbrook got into a heated verbal altercation with a fan near the bench. It remains unclear what the fan said, but it was enough for Westbrook to threaten, I'll (expletive) you up. You and your wife. I'll (expletive) you up.
The next day, the fan, identified as Shane Keisel, was permanently banned from all future events at the arena. Moments after the Jazz announced the ban, Westbrook was fined $25,000 for incident.
Miller's remarks echoed those of Jazz general manager Dennis Lindsey in an interview with USA TODAY Sports earlier Thursday. Lindsey said he apologized to Thunder counterpart Sam Presti and the organization.
Lindsey spoke emotionally about his background and how his life experiences have informed his thoughts on race.
People may say, 'Hey, whatever, what the fan said was a small thing.' Well, it's not, Lindsey said. What it does is make everyone feel small, and every Caucasian should take a look at themselves and look at their heart.
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