Russell Westbrook Stands by Telling Heckler in Utah 'I'll F--- You Up,' Claims 'Racial' Attack
Video of Russell Westbrook's outburst went viral on Monday, the clip showing the basketball star shouting expletives at a couple off-camera
Russell Westbrook isn’t apologizing for verbally threatening to “f— up” a male and female fan who were heckling him during a game in Utah on Monday night.
The Oklahoma City Thunder point guard, 30, spoke to reporters after his team’s victory against the Utah Jazz, claiming that he was provoked to defend himself after a pair of hecklers told him to “get down on my knees like I used to” — a comment he felt was not only “completely disrespectful,” but also a “racial” attack on him and his family.
“If I had to do it over again, I would say the same exact thing,” Westbook said in a statement reported by The Salt Lake Tribune. “I truly will stand up for myself and my family and my wife and my mom and my dad every single time. I expect anybody else to do the same.”
“There’s no protection for the players,” Westbrook added. “There are people who come to the game to say mean, disrespectful things about me and my family. For many years I’ve done all the right things. I’ve never done anything to hurt or harm anybody, I’ve never been in any trouble, I’ve never fought a fan. [I’ve] been in the league 11 years [and have] a clean slate. I’m humble, I take all the criticism from everybody. But for me, disrespect will not be taken from me.”
He also said: “Throughout the whole game — since I’ve been here, especially here in Utah, every time I come here, a lot of disrespectful things are said. For me, I’m just not going to continue to take disrespect for my family.”
Video of Westbrook’s outburst went viral on Monday evening thanks to a tweet by Deseret News’ Eric Woodyard. The clip showed the basketball star shouting expletives at a couple off-camera.
“Yo player, I swear to god, I swear to god, you and your wife? I’ll f— you up,” Westbrook said in the clip. “I promise you. Everything I love, I promise you. I swear to god.”
He also spoke to a security guard about the situation in the video. “I’ll tell you one thing: I’ll f— him up,” Westbook told the guard. “I promise you. I promise you.”
Salt Lake City NBC 5 later spoke to one of Westbrook’s hecklers, 45-year-old Shane Keisel, who said that he thought he was having “fun” with Westbrook by yelling to “ice those knees” up.
“Me and him, we were actually having fun to be honest,” Keisel said. “He was smiling at one point … And then it turned into not safe for work … I never said a single swear word to him, not one. Initially, I was like, ‘Oh, I’m talking with Westbrook, the guy is one of the greats.’ But he’s also classless.”
Westbrook — himself a husband and a father with twin girls on the way — stressed that he never intended to hurt the woman with Keisel.
“I’ve never put my hands on a woman, I never will,” Westbrook said. “Never been in an domestic violence [situation] before.”
This is not the first time Westbrook has gotten heated during a game in Utah. During the 2018 NBA Playoffs, he was fined for slapping a phone out of a fan’s hand, Sports Illustrated reported.
According to Deseret News, a total of five Jazz fans received “warning cards” on Monday night from security — given because their “comments, gestures and/or behaviors” directed at players were in violation of “the NBA Fan Code of Conduct.
Representatives for The Jazz did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment, but released a statement on Monday night to ESPN saying they were continuing to investigate the “unfortunate exchange.”
“Multiple warning cards were issues by arena security,” they said. “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.”