Zionsville coach had phone thrown by Trail Blazers player, says he's received death threats, files lawsuit
Jusuf Nurkic made headlines when he approached a fan, Steven Geske, after a game between Portland and Indiana, and threw the fan’s phone. The aftermath of the incident has caused the fan to sue Nurkic, Trail Blazers and Yahoo’s Chris Haynes.
Geske is a lacrosse coach at Zionsville High School, according to his LinkedIn page and the school’s athletic website.
Nurkic was fined $40,000. Two days after the incident, Haynes tweeted that "the fan who Portland Trail Blazers center Jusuf Nurkic confronted in Indiana allegedly shouted “your mom is trash” and said his “grandma’s a (expletive).”
Nurkic’s grandmother died of COVID-19 in 2020.
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The lawsuit states that “at no time did Geske ever insult, comment on, or mention Nurkić’s mother or grandmother. At no time did Geske, nor anyone in his party, use profanity or any other derogatory language. Geske did not do or say anything inappropriate during or after the game.” The lawsuit says witnesses described Geske’s words during the game as “‘G-Rated,” ‘light-hearted,’ and ‘humorous.’”
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The lawsuit alleges that, “in an effort to combat negative publicity related to Nurkić’s conduct, and to minimize or justify Nurkić’s conduct, Trail Blazers, Inc. personnel, including but not limited to Nurkić, concocted a lie” that Geske insulted Nurkic’s mother and grandmother.
The lawsuit alleges that Geske has received “multiple harassing messages, including death threats” following Haynes’ tweet and subsequent articles published about the incident. It also says that law enforcement has had to attend lacrosse practices, where Geske is a coach, due to the threats.
Zionsville police captain Drake Sterling said that Zionsville school resource officer Adrian Martin saw something about the incident on social media, and put out an informational bulletin.
"Normal school patrols were issued out just to make sure nothing crazy happened at school, more for the protection of the kids than anything else," Sterling said.
He says no additional protection was requested by Geske, and he is not aware of any law enforcement being at a practice.
The lawsuit says that Geske was subject to an investigation by his employer and “almost lost his job.”
Geske’s “image in his community has been debased,” according to the lawsuit, because of the “false statements that were defamatory and sought to elevate Nurkić’s standing at the expense of Geske’s reputation. As a result of the defamatory statements, Geske has suffered fear, damage to his reputation, and other damages.” The lawsuit also says Haynes “negligently published false statements” about Geske that were defamatory.
Geske “respectfully requests a judgment against Defendants in an amount that will fully and fairly compensate him for his damages, for the costs of this action, and for all other relief just and appropriate in the premises.”
IndyStar has reached out to the Trail Blazers, Yahoo's Chris Haynes, and Geske for comment. Zionsville’s athletic department said it was not aware of the lawsuit until IndyStar published this story, and that Geske “remains in good standing as our lacrosse coach.”
Follow IndyStar trending sports reporter Matthew VanTryon on Twitter @MVanTryon and email him story ideas at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article originally appeared on Indianapolis Star: Pacers fan sues Trail Blazers, Yahoo after Jusuf Nurkic throws phone