March 12, 2019 / 8:07 AM / 5 months ago

Westbrook has testy encounter with fans in Utah

(Reuters) - Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook had a heated confrontation with a male fan and his wife during his team’s away win in Utah on Monday.

FILE PHOTO: Mar 11, 2019; Salt Lake City, UT, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook (0) hands his shoes to an Oklahoma City Thunder fan after the game against the Utah Jazz at Vivint Smart Home Arena. Oklahoma City Thunder won 114-104. Mandatory Credit: Chris Nicoll-USA TODAY Sports

Westbrook was caught on video standing near his team’s bench and directing an expletive-laden tirade at a fan off camera.

Westbrook addressed the incident following OKC’s 96-89 win and said it began when the fan and his wife told the All Star player to “get down on your knees like you’re used to”.

“To me that’s just completely disrespectful,” Westbrook told reporters. “I think there are a lot of great fans around the world that like to come to the game and enjoy the game.

“Then there are people that come to the game to say mean, disrespectful things about me, my family.

“And if I had to do it again, I would say the same exact thing, because I truly will stand up for myself, for my family, for my kids, for my wife, for my mom, for my dad every single time. I expect anybody else to do the same.”

Westbrook had another testy interaction with Jazz fans in last year’s playoffs when he slapped a fan’s cell phone as he walked off the court.

Last month, a young kid sitting courtside in Denver nudged Westbrook after he stepped out of bounds. In that instance, Westbrook stopped and had a calm conversation with the fan and his dad.

“We are continuing to investigate the unfortunate exchange at tonight’s game between Russell Westbrook and fans,” Jazz were quoted as saying by local media in a statement.

“Multiple warning cards were issued by arena security. Players and fans have a shared responsibility to create a safe and respectful environment.

“If it is determined that any fans violated the NBA Code of Conduct, appropriate action will be taken.”

Writing by Jahmal Corner in Los Angeles; editing by Sudipto Ganguly

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