Powell: Westbrook, Jazz Fan "Both Out Of Line"

Russell Westbrook was fined $25,000, and a Jazz fan was permanently banned from the arena after their Monday altercation

March 14, 2019 - 10:07 am

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Player-fan interactions are nothing new in the NBA, and this week provided yet another example of that. Russell Westbrook was fined $25,000 for directing profanity and threatening language toward a Jazz fan, who was permanently banned from the arena for his actions.

Ultimately, who was at fault here?

“Look, in the internet age, it’s very easy to smear everyone because of the actions of a few,” NBA.com Shaun Powell said on Ferrall on the Bench. “We tend to judge a group of people by the actions of a couple knuckleheads, and I’m not going to do that. I’m simply not going to do that. This guy was out of line, and I think Russ was out of line. You don’t threaten to physically harm a woman, particularly in this day and age – any time, really, but particularly in this day and age. So I think the reactions by both parties are out of line.”

The fan – 45-year-old Shane Keisel – reportedly made lewd comments to Westbrook, which Westbrook felt were inappropriate and racial in tone.

“What makes a grown man stand up from his seat and yell at any professional athlete for any reason?” Powell asked. “Seriously, I never understood that. Sit down, shut up, and root for your own team. Why are you yelling at somebody else? Another athlete? I’ve never done that in my life. I don’t drink, so maybe that’s a factor. I don’t know. But I never understood why fans yell disparaging comments at someone they don’t know.

“That guy would never say that if he saw Russ on the street,” Powell continued. “If fans ever saw these players on the street, they would be asking for their autograph. They would never say the type of things they said (at a game).”

Westbrook, though, was also out of line, as he threatened to physically assault Keisel and his wife.

“Russ is too think-skinned,” Powell said. “A couple weeks ago, somebody asked Russ about criticism and Russ said, ‘You know what? I’m blessed with the talent to not give a you-know-what.’ Well, guess what? He ain’t blessed with that talent. We saw that. We saw him come unhinged. If you’re an athlete and someone is yelling at you, why would you care? You don’t know him, he don’t know you – play your game, man. If you’re thinking about what some fan is saying to you, that means your concentration on the game is being distracted. That means you’re not even concentrating. Play the game.”