The fan who got into a heated exchange with then-Oklahoma City Thunder star Russell Westbrook last season at a Utah Jazz game filed a lawsuit against both Westbrook and the Jazz on Monday seeking $68 million in damages, according to the Salt Lake Tribune.
Shane Keisel, who received a lifetime ban from Vivint Smart Home Arena, claims that he and his girlfriend engaged “only in typical crowd behavior” at the game last March, but was subjected to a “tirade” from an “irate” Westbrook, per the report.
Westbrook, who now plays for the Houston Rockets, could be seen on video arguing with a fan in the crowd near the end of the game.
“I promise you,” Westbrook yelled at Keisel. “You think I’m playing? I swear to God. I swear to God. I’ll f--k you up. You and your wife. I’ll f--k you up.”
Westbrook said that Keisel told him to “get down on your knees like you used to,” which sparked the incident. Keisel, however, claims he only told Westbrook to “wrap his knees to be better able to play later on in the game.”
“The crowd was shocked by the ferocity of Mr. Westbrook’s outburst when he had only been told to take care of his knees,” the lawsuit states, via the Salt Lake Tribune, “albeit in a mocking manner that implied he would need to use them extensively to ensure his team’s victory.”
Keisel is also seeking a public apology in the lawsuit, and his girlfriend is seeking $32 million in damages — bringing the grand total to $100 million. Keisel said both he and his family have been harassed in the wake of the incident, per the report, causing him to instal new locks and security cameras at home and alter his driving route.
“In public, people have stopped, point out, and taken photographs of Mr. Keisel and his family," the lawsuit states, via the Salt Lake Tribune, “causing Mr. Keisel to avoid going out in public except when necessary.”
Westbrook stood by his behavior after the game and garnered wide support from across the league, too, calling Keisel’s comments “completely disrespectful” and “racial.” Keisel — a former Utah Highway Patrol Sergeant — denied directing racist comments toward Westbrook, however multiple tweets from his since-deleted Twitter account surfaced containing both physical threats and racist remarks toward Westbrook.
The Jazz issued a lifetime ban the day after the game after “an investigation through video review and eyewitness accounts,” and stood by that ban on Monday.
“We believe there is no legal or factual basis for these claims against the Utah Jazz,” the team said in a statement, via Andy Larsen of the Salt Lake Tribune. “The organization investigated the underlying incident and acted in an appropriate and responsible manner. We intend to vigorously defend the lawsuit.”
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