Russell Westbrook: Adding insult to elimination, NBA may issue fine

SALT LAKE CITY, UT - APRIL 27: Russell Westbrook
SALT LAKE CITY, UT - APRIL 27: Russell Westbrook /

Russell Westbrook experienced two altercations with fans which may result in a fine by the NBA.

To say Russell Westbrook left everything he had on the court in the first round series versus the Utah Jazz would be an understatement. Surely there are drops of perspiration, sneaker marks and perhaps even a small piece of the Brodie’s heart on Vivint and Chesapeake arenas.

There wasn’t much more Westbrook could offer having delivered 91 points, 25 rebounds, 12 assists and two steals over the last two games. With so much at stake is it fair then that the players are dealing with overzealous fans?

Arguably Westbrook needs to be more disciplined. But, if you’ve played competitive sports then you’re familiar with adrenaline. Having a hostile fan reach out at you while yapping probably is annoying. But, if your Westbrook and the same group of fans repeat this action then aren’t you asking why those fans weren’t warned? Moreover, why wasn’t there more security in place after the halftime incident?

Halftime Altercation:

As you can see from the video there are a group of four fans at the railing. In this initial altercation the last man in the group leans over the rail and says something to Westbrook. The man and woman with the light hair appear to be together and are filming Russ and the incident. From all accounts Westbrook told the fan at half time to back the ‘bleep” up.

End of Game altercation:

In the end of game incident the man and woman who were standing just to the left of the man who leaned over the railing to yell something at Westbrook at halftime are involved. This time the man with the camera phone leans over to put the phone almost in Russ’ face. Russell Westbrook swipes at the phone and says something to the fan.

Are more than one party at fault?

The question is which party is most responsible? If the Vivint facility and security had addressed the half time issue appropriately then presumably at the very least the second incident never occurs.

Both videos need to be viewed as a package because if the first fan was spoken to surely the entire group would’ve been warned. I understand fans negative reaction if only viewing the second video. However, if both videos are viewed together it’s easy to comprehend why Westbrook became increasingly annoyed.

Russell Westbrook postgame statement:

And, the plot thickens as Westbrook told reporters postgame of fans who went beyond typical trash talk. Russ seemed most annoyed by the disrespect levied at his family and child (or implied that).

Here in Utah, man, a lot of disrespectful, vulgar things are said to the players here with these fans. It’s truly disrespectful. Talk about your families, your kids. It’s truly disrespectful to the game, man.” …If I was on the street, they wouldn’t just come up to me and say anything crazy, because I don’t play that s—. So, to disrespect me and do whatever they want to do needs to be put to a stop, especially here in Utah.” – Westbrook.

Westbrook a common target:

This is the second fan altercation with Russ who had a fan come on to the court and confront him earlier this season.

If a fine is coming it seems logical to expect it would be as high as $35k. That’s the amount Rodney Hood paid for a similar incident.

However, this Jazz incident does seem to merit a deeper dive because it was in precisely the same vicinity on both occasions. In other words,the NBA must also examine what Vivint’s security team did to address the half time confrontation. If the security team were on top of this, the second confrontation shouldn’t have occurred.

And, if Westbrook is the only one fined, does that send a message to fans they can get in players faces, touch them and verbally accost them?

More from Thunderous Intentions

Celtics creative shade toss:

In Boston’s T.D. Garden Saturday night, Celtic’s fan creatively chanted ‘Who is Bledsoe’. This was in response to the earlier sarcasm of Bledsoe who quipped ‘who the bleep is Rozier?’ In this incidence the fans are being clever and in fairness Bledsoe opened that door.

Addressing the issue:

But, in Westbrook’s case he didn’t initiate the interaction on either occasion. Westbrook should’ve probably demonstrated more control. But, in the same token walking off the court following the loss which ended his season he probably wasn’t focused on making sure that same group of fans didn’t reach out at him again.

I might be biased, but I think that fell on the Vivint Arena Security to 1) ensure the fans did not have access and 2) barring that, surround Westbrook with enough security to block the fan.

The NBA will likely rule on this situation by Monday. TI will keep you posted on what if anything the NBA fine Russell Westbrook.