GoFundMe campaign started to 'change narrative on Utah' after incident between Russell Westbrook, Jazz fan

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Oklahoma City Thunder's Russell Westbrook gets into a heated verbal altercation with fans in the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Utah Jazz, Monday, March 11, 2019, in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
Jazz fans start GoFundMe campaign, raising money for charity, to help "change the narrative" on Utah after an incident between a Jazz fan and Russell Westbrook on Monday. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

Just days after a heated incident between Oklahoma City Thunder star Russell Westbrook and a Utah Jazz fan, it seems some Utahns are trying to change the narrative on their state.

A GoFundMe page was created this week with a goal to raise $25,000 — the amount that Westbrook was fined for the incident at Vivint Smart Home Arena. That money isn’t being raised to support the fan who allegedly made “completely disrespectful” and “racial” comments toward the Thunder guard, however.

Instead, it’s going to be donated to the Human Rights Campaign, an organization that advocates for LGBTQ equality around the country.

And as of Wednesday night, the campaign — created by lifelong Jazz fan Devin Deaton of Sandy, Utah — had raised more than $9,000.

“Jazz fans are not bigots. Jazz fans are not racist. Jazz fans are loyal to the Utah Jazz,” the campaign reads. “In light of recent events between Russell Westbrook & a few outlying Jazz fans, I am calling for the true, loyal, welcoming and kind Utah Jazz fans to show our true colors.

Westbrook was caught on video late in their 98-89 win against the Jazz on Monday yelling at a Jazz fan in the crowd: “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 later said that the two fans he was yelling at had told him to “get down on my knees like you used to.”

Westbrook was fined $25,000 by the NBA for the incident, but has drawn support from players all across the league, including from LeBron James. The fan in question was quickly handed a lifetime ban from the Jazz, though he has threatened to file a lawsuit against Westbrook.

Deaton said he and his family have held season tickets to Jazz games since he was five years old, and that he’s never “personally experienced racism or bigotry” like what was shown on Monday night.

While the incident certainly wasn’t a good look, Deaton wants to make sure the rest of the NBA world knows that the actions of those involved on Monday don’t reflect the state as a whole.

“It is time to change the narrative on citizens of Utah, fans of the Jazz and those that call Utah 'home,’” the campaign reads. “We are not a bunch of redneck, racist, bigots. Most of us are dads, moms, friends, hard-workers, kind-hearted, do right by each other, help our fellow man, good neighbors and welcoming to all.”

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