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Oklahoma City Thunder Superstar Russell Westbrook’s attitude toward the media has ranged over the years from harmless and humorous to “dangerous for the NBA” as Steve Kerr suggested.
“I just feel that we have to be very careful as a league,” Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr said, via The Athletic. “We’re in a good place right now. Very popular. Fans love the game, the social dynamic, the fashion. But more than anything they love the connection they feel to the players. I think it’s important for the players to understand that it’s a key dynamic to this league. I don’t think this is a healthy dynamic, for this league, for any player, any team, any local media, any national media.
“It’s all part of the business,” Kerr said. “You’ve got to feed information to the fans. You don’t have to give a great answer, but it’s dangerous when you go down that path of no communication because one of the reasons people like the league right now is we have a lot of great players, really good guys who handle themselves well. So don’t kill that. You’ve got to keep that going. That’s a big part of the business.”
Westbrook slightly altered his “next question” approach following his team’s Game 4 loss Sunday to go down 3-1 in their first-round series with Portland, but his message remained the same.
The league hasn’t issued a fine or discipline to Westbrook, as he’s still performing his media obligations by showing up, not using inappropriate language or criticizing officials, and so on. But the optics, as many members of the NBA community see it, aren’t good.
Check out Westbrook’s responses — or, non-responses — over the years to questions asked by Berry Tramel during his postgame media availability sessions.
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The Utah Jazz released a statement Tuesday afternoon, informing the public of their stance on the verbal altercation that occurred between a fan and Russell Westbrook during Monday’s game vs the Oklahoma City Thunder. Jazz fan Shane Keisel, has been banned for life from setting foot on the premise of Vivint SmartHome Arena, for all activities, not just Jazz games.
Statement from the Utah Jazz: pic.twitter.com/L3eYolvrpq— utahjazz (@utahjazz) March 12, 2019
The Jazz called Keisel’s remarks “offensive and abusive” and stated there was “no place in our game for personal attacks or disrespect”.
Several videos surfaced of Westbrook yelling expletives at a fan during the game last night, but it wasn’t until after the game that both sides of the story were unveiled and told.
Russell Westbrook explains the verbal altercation he had with Jazz fans during tonight's game, saying fans told him “to get down on my knees like you used to.” (via @espn_macmahon) pic.twitter.com/aObvg6ZuPT— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) March 12, 2019
The lifetime ban is effectively immediately, and Kiesel can now face trespassing charges if found attending any events at Vivint Smart Home Arena. Russell Westbrook was fined $25,000 for his part in the altercation, and is yet to release any official statement since his comments following the game last night.