On Thusday, Jazz owner Gail Miller sent an email to all the fans on the team’s mailing list reminding them of the NBA’s Code of Conduct in the wake of an incident involving Russell Westbrook earlier this week.
She also took a few moments to address the crowd prior to Utah’s game against the Timberwolves.
“I am extremely disappointed that one of our quote ‘fans’ conducted himself in such a way as to offend not only a guest in our arena, but also me personally, my family, our organization, the community, our players and you, as the best fans in the NBA,” Miller said.
“This should never happen. We are not a racist community. We believe in treating people with courtesy and respect as human beings. From time to time, individual fans exhibit poor behavior and forget their manners and disrespect players on other teams. When that happens, I want you to jump up and shout ‘stop.’ We have a code of conduct in this arena. It will be strictly enforced.”
Gail Miller addressed tonight's crowd ahead of tip-off ?? pic.twitter.com/nJcmPD2kD4
— Utah Jazz (@utahjazz) March 15, 2019
On Monday, during the Thunders’ win against the Jazz, Westbrook was captured on video screaming to a heckler “I’ll f— you up, you and your wife.”
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. pic.twitter.com/LquwRmLVNy
— Eric Woodyard (@E_Woodyard) March 12, 2019
After the game, Westbrook explained that the fan told him to “get down on your knees like you used to.”
Russell Westbrook made a statement and did not take questions tonight. Here’s all of the statement I can fit into one Twitter vid: pic.twitter.com/EQA3A4jaQQ
— Brett Dawson (@BDawsonWrites) March 12, 2019
The next day, the fan, identified as Shane Keisel, was permanently banned from all future events at the arena. Moments after the Jazz announced the ban, Westbrook was fined $25,000 for incident.
“When bad incidents like Monday night happen, it not only affects the player it’s directed at, it also affects our players. Other teams are not our enemies, they are our competition,” Miller said. “Competition is a good thing. It allows players to showcase their talents, it allows fans to encourage, appreciate, cheer for, and enjoy those who share those talents with us.
Miller’s remarks echoed those of Jazz general manager Dennis Lindsey. Lindsey apologized to Thunder counterpart Sam Presti and the organization and spoke emotionally about his background and how his life experiences have informed his thoughts on race.
“People may say, ‘Hey, whatever, what the fan said was a small thing.’ Well, it’s not,” Lindsey said. “What it does is make everyone feel small, and every Caucasian should take a look at themselves and look at their heart.”
The NBA also issued a memo to all 30 teams to produce a public service announcement emphasizing the “importance of respect and civility in NBA arenas.”