Through his first decade-plus in the NBA, Houston Rockets guard Russell Westbrook had become one of the most prominent star players. Westbrook is an elite talent that has often drawn some criticism for sometimes brash personality on the court. That hasn’t exactly made him the apple of the eye of some NBA fans that have put him in a couple of crazy on-the-court incidents that haven’t been any of his doing. The most recent occurred late last season, which resulted in the now-banned fan suing the Westbrook and the Utah Jazz for the incident.
Russell Westbrook’s fan incident vs. Jazz
The entire matter that is in question took place during the 2018-19 season on March 11, 2019, in the Oklahoma City Thunder’s 98-89 win over the Jazz.
In the course of the first half of the contest, Westbrook dealt with a fan that continued to badger him throughout the night. That led to a video going viral on social media during the time that showed the star guard telling an arena official, “I’m going to tell you on thing. I’ll f**k him up.”
That was followed by Westbrook turning the fan in question to voice that he would beat up both the fan and his wife. Those words alone landed him a $25,000 fine from the NBA for “directing profanity and threatening language to a fan.”
However, the situation didn’t stop there as Westbrook voiced to the media after the game that the fan, later identified as Shane Keisel, had told him to “get down on (your) knees like you’re used to.”
In response to this situation, the Jazz acted quickly by handing out a lifetime ban to the fan on the grounds of his “excessive and derogatory verbal abuse” of Westbrook during the game after a thorough investigation from video and eyewitness accounts, according to the Guardian.
It didn’t take long for Keisel to respond with legal action to this situation.
Russell Westbrook, Jazz engulfed in $100 million lawsuit
Several months later, in December, Keisel went through legal means to respond to Westbrook and the Jazz by filing a $100 million lawsuit.
He decided to head this route as believed that he and girlfriend Jennifer Huff were wrongly accused of yelling racist and derogatory comments and had only acted in “typical crowd” behavior at a sporting event and had to deal with a “tirade” from an “irate” Westbrook.
The lawsuit states that both Keisel and Huff want a public apology along with significant financial damages. The attorneys for the suit are reportedly hoping to get $68 million in damages for Keisel and $32 million for his girlfriend on the grounds of defamation and infliction of emotional distress.
Those amounts stem from the claims that Keisel and his family members have been harassed due to the incident. Meanwhile, he has voiced that he has had to change his driving routes along with avoiding using his first name while having to place new locks and security cameras at his home. Following the incident, Keisel also lost his jobs at Brent Brown Toyota and Skywest Airlines.
Russell Westbrook, Jazz respond to lawsuit
Nearly a month after Keisel filed the lawsuit, attorneys that represented both Westbrook and Jazz issued separate responses to the situation, according to The Salt Lake Tribune.
The pair of responses to the matter have voiced their denial that Westbrook and the Jazz had acted recklessly. Meanwhile, Westbrook’s letter denied that the star guard had intentionally created emotional distress on Keisel and Huff.
The Jazz’s statement voiced that they felt that they had acted appropriately to the situation by going through an investigation of the video and eyewitnesses. The team also pointed out that Keisel had admitted that he made specific comments that could be deemed as racist or racially motivated and also pointed out they never used his or his girlfriend’s name in their public handling of the matter.
The Jazz also voiced that Keisel and Huff’s reputation was only damaged because of their own actions in the matter. Lastly, the Jazz and Westbrook are looking to gather attorneys’ fees that have come about due to defending the lawsuit. It’s a sticky situation, but one that seems to be entirely one-sided in favor of the star guard and the Jazz.