This was not how the Oklahoma City Thunder season was supposed to end.
When Paul George and Carmelo Anthony joined Russell Westbrook in the offseason, the Thunder weren’t necessarily tabbed to compete with Golden State and Houston for the Western Conference. They were expected to make it to a second-round playoff run to give fans a series against one of the two conference powers.
But Donovan Mitchell and the Utah Jazz arrived early and arrived with swagger to take a testy series in six games that saw Westbrook’s heroics in a second straight comeback attempt Friday come up painfully short. And when it was over, Westbrook, who scored 46 of the Thunder’s 91 points, had zero patience with a Jazz fan sticking his phone in his face as he walked off the court.
OKC has to get Russ out of Utah pic.twitter.com/p91mwcESLG
— Dime on UPROXX (@DimeUPROXX) April 28, 2018
Westbrook swiped at the fan as he headed for the tunnel and is fortunate he didn’t make contact.
It wasn’t Westbrook’s first run-in with a fan on Friday. He had some choice words with a heckling fan at halftime while walking toward the same tunnel.
Westbrook addressed the run-ins in the postgame news conference.
Russell Westbrook on Jazz fans: "I don't confront fans. Fans confront me. Here in Utah, a lot of disrespectful, vulgar things are said. … It's something that needs to be brought up… I don't play that sh!t. … It needs to be put to a stop." pic.twitter.com/DYTquwwtLA
— Def Pen Hoops (@DefPenHoops) April 28, 2018
“I don’t confront fans. Fans confront me. Here in Utah, man, a lot of disrespectful, vulgar things are said to the players here. And with these fans, man, it’s truly disrespectful. Talk about your families, your kids, and it’s just disrespect to the game. I think it’s something that needs to be brought up. I’m tired of just going out and playing and letting fans say what the hell they want to say. I’m not with that. Because if I was on the street, they wouldn’t just come up to me and say anything crazy, because I don’t play that shit. So I just think it’s disrespectful, and they get the chance to do whatever they want to do. It needs to be put to a stop, especially here in Utah.”
The series was chippy almost throughout. Game 4 in Utah saw multiple altercations, seven technical fouls, an ejection and a $10,000 fine for Westbrook after he left the sideline to join a confrontation already in progress.
Westbrook is likely facing more than that for lashing out at Jazz fans on Friday. But with the season over and the Thunder’s future in turmoil, he’s probably not too concerned about that right now.
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