LeBron James supports Russell Westbrook in fan incident: 'He was in the right'

Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James joined the chorus of NBA personnel who supported Oklahoma City Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook following his heated exchange with Utah Jazz fan Shane Keisel during a game in Salt Lake City.

Video caught Westbrook telling Keisel, “I’ll f—- you up. You and your wife.” The two parties had different versions of the exchange after the game. Westbrook told reporters that Keisel and his wife directed “disrespectful” and “racial” language at him. Keisel denied saying anything derogatory and intends to sue Westbrook.

Before Keisel could delete his Twitter account on advise of counsel, users uncovered numerous troubling tweets, including previous physical threats and racist remarks directed at Westbrook that further called his story into question.

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LeBron James pledged support for his former USA Basketball teammate. (Getty Images)
LeBron James pledged support for his former USA Basketball teammate. (Getty Images)

A cavalcade of NBA personnel supported Westbrook in the aftermath of the incident, with both OKC and Utah players supporting the Thunder star’s version of events. The Jazz banned the fan for life, citing video evidence and eyewitness accounts of his alleged “excessive and derogatory verbal abuse” of Westbrook.

The NBA fined Westbrook $25,000 for “directing profanity and threatening language to a fan,” but the message from across the league was clear: Westbrook is deserving of support, and basketball’s most prominent voice said as much on Tuesday night.

"The good thing in social media came out when they went through everything he said about Russ and other people in his little timeline,” James said after a review of the incident. “Obviously, Russ is a very passionate guy. ... No matter if you like him or love him and the way he plays the game, the guy is one of the most loyal and down-to-earth guys I know, and that guy just took it too far on the other end. There could have been some words that Russ could have said a little bit differently, but at the end of the day, he was in the right and that guy was in the wrong."

To recap: A Jazz fan went to a game with his wife, allegedly directed “excessive and derogatory verbal abuse” at Westbrook and left banned from ever seeing the Jazz in person again, all while many of the game’s top players, including James and Jazz star Donovan Mitchell, drew attention to his online history of “hate speech.”

Let this be a lesson to all who might think about expressing similar views: Don’t.

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Ben Rohrbach is a staff writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at rohrbach_ben@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @brohrbach

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