Oklahoma City Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook’s threats to a heckling fan on Monday have gone viral — and despite the controversy, the star says if given the chance, he’d “say the exact same thing.”
In response to a fan allegedly yelling at him to “get down on your knees like you [or ‘you’re’] used to,” Westbrook unloaded, threatening not only the male fan but his wife too.
“I’m going to tell you one thing: I’ll f*** him up!” Westbrook told someone on the sidelines, pointing toward the fan, a moment caught on video posted by Utah Jazz sports reporter Eric Woodyard.
Westbrook then turned toward the fan. “I promise you. You think I’m playing? I swear to god. I swear to god. I’ll f*** you up. You and your wife. I’ll f*** you up,” he exclaimed before briefly turning toward the court and responding to apparent pushback. “Nah, f*** that! Nah, f*** that!” he said, then turned back to the fan. “I promise you. On everything I love. Everything I love. I promise you. I swear to god.”
Woodyard tweeted out video of the moment, writing: “Things get heated between Russell Westbrook and Utah Jazz fans again. ‘I’ll f*ck you up. You and your wife,’ he says. Not sure what these fans said to him, but he also had issues with Jazz fans during the postseason.”
The heckler, Shane Keisel, told a reporter afterward that he thought the two were just having fun, saying at one point Westbrook was even smiling.
“He’s got to be a professional,” said Keisel in a post-game interview posted by KSL’s Jeremiah Jensen. “She [his wife] was sitting down the entire time. Me and him, we were just — it was actually, we’re just kind of having fun, to be honest.”
“At least you thought you were having fun,” said Jensen.
“He was smiling at one point,” said Keisel, saying he told Westbrook to just sit down and ice his knees because he’s going to need it. “Then it turned into … not safe for work.”
As Deadspin reports, Westbrook has since issued a statement about the incident, saying Keisel told him to “Get on your knees like you used to,” a comment he said he interpreted as “racial.” (His teammate Patrick Patterson tweeted the comment slightly differently, saying the fan said “like your [you’re] use[d] to.”)
“[H]ow it started was, a young man and his wife in the stands told me ‘to get down on my knees like you used to,'” he said in a statement reported by The Salt Lake Tribune’s Andy Larsen. “To me, that’s just completely disrespectful to me. I think it’s racial, and I think it’s inappropriate in the sense that there’s no protection for the players,” he said.
After calling for “consequences” for fans who cross the line, Westbrook said, “If I had to do it over again, I would say the exact same thing.”
Deadspin notes that Westbrook has a bit of history with heckling Jazz fans, citing “a couple instances similar to this one between Westbrook and some random Utahns” during the playoffs last season. When things heated up, the outlet reports, the fans both backed down before it got out of control. Westbrook commented on the hecklers’ treatment of him after Game 6 of the series, stating fans shouldn’t say “disrespectful, vulgar” things they wouldn’t be willing to tell him on the street.