Utah Jazz fan banned for Russell Westbrook incident; Mitchell calls out hate speech
Ryan Miller, KSL.com
Published at | Updated at
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — Shane Keisel doesn’t represent the Jazz fans that Donovan Mitchell has come to know. Or the type of fan the organization wants in its arena.
KSL.com reports on Tuesday that, Keisel, the Jazz fan who engaged in an altercation with Russell Westbrook during Monday’s game, has been permanently banned by the Utah Jazz, the Larry H. Miller Group announced.
The Jazz conducted an investigation through video review and eyewitness accounts and determined that Keisel was in violation of the NBA Code of Conduct.
Westbrook said that Keisel told him to “get on your knees like you’re used to,” which led to the Thunder star verbally threatening Keisel. Westbrook was fined $25,000 by the league for his profanity-laced tirade.
“Everyone deserves the opportunity to enjoy and play the game in a safe, positive and inclusive environment,” said Steve Starks, president of the Utah Jazz. “Offensive and abusive behavior does not reflect the values of the Miller family, our organization and the community.
“We all have a responsibility to respect the game of basketball and, more importantly, each other as human beings. This has always been a hallmark of our incredible fan base and should forever be our standard moving forward.”
Mitchell is willing to put in the work to make sure that is the case. In a statement, Mitchell said he was “personally hurt” by the altercation and wants to do his part to eliminate those types of incidents around the league in the future.
”As a black man living in a community I love and playing on a team that gives me the opportunity to live out my dreams, this incident hits close to home,” Mitchell said. “Racism and hate speech hurts us all, and this is not the first time something like this has happened in our arena.”
But he’s hoping it’s one of the last times. He doesn’t believe that Keisel represents the Jazz fan base as a whole — not by a long shot. And is hopeful that players around the league will understand that, too.
“The Utah that I have come to love is welcoming and inclusive and last night’s incident is not indicative of our fanbase,” Mitchell said. “We don’t want to create a negative reputation for athletes who potentially may want to come to Utah.”
Mitchell credited his team and the NBA for responding so quickly the what he called a “hateful incident” and for showing that the Jazz will not tolerate inappropriate fan behavior.
“I join other plays in calling for all teams to take a stand,” Mitchell said. “We shouldn’t be subject to hate speech or racist acts at any time, and definitely not in our arenas.”
Mitchell wants to be part of eliminating that type of speech. He said that he plans to work with his team, teammates and the NBA to help make the arenas more welcoming and inclusive to all.
“That includes bans on hate speech and racism,” Mitchell said. “I don’t have all the answers, but this offseason I will work through my foundation, SPIDACARES, to take a close look at race issues across this country to see what I can do to help combat against racial inequality. I am asking all of you to join me in this process because when we all stand and speak up, change happens.”