Utah Jazz Owner Condemns Racism After Russell Westbrook Incident
"We are not a racist community."
Utah Jazz owner Gail Miller had a few choice words for fan Shane Keisel after the latter reportedly threw racist remarks at Russell Westbrook following a Monday night game (March 11).
"I am extremely disappointed that one of our quote 'fans' conducted himself in such a way to offend not only a guest in our arena but also me personally, my family, our organization, the community, our players and you, as the best fans in the NBA," Miller said, per ESPN, to the crowd of Jazz fans before the team faced off against the Minnesota Timberwolves Thursday night (March 14).
Within the speech, Miller emphasized how the behavior displayed by Keisel was unacceptable and called for "the best fans in the NBA" to report, in the future, if they saw similar conduct again.
"This should never happen," Miller said. "We are not a racist community. We believe in treating people with courtesy and respect as human beings. From time to time, individual fans exhibit poor behavior and forget their manners and disrespect players on other teams."
"When that happens, I want you to jump up and shout 'stop.' We have a code of conduct in this arena. It will be strictly enforced," the 76-year-old businesswoman continued.
This speech was spawned after Westbrook reported that the Jazz fan had told him to "get on your knees like you're used to." The point guard found the comment to be "completely disrespectful" and "racial." Following the discourse between the two, Westbrook was fined $25,000 by the NBA and Keisel was banned for life from Jazz games.
"Other teams are not our enemies. They are our competition. Competition is a good thing. It allows players to showcase their talents, and it allows fans to encourage, appreciate, cheer for and enjoy those who share their talents with us," Miller said.
Season-ticket holders of the Jazz were warned, via email, that their tickets can be revoked if they are to take the same steps as Keisel. In another email, Miller denounced hate speech and racism amongst other things as well as informing the fans that "violators may be subject to ejection and other penalties, including a lifetime ban."