A basketball fan banned for life after a fiery confrontation with NBA star Russell Westbrook is suing for an eye-watering US$68 million (A$99.27m).
The fan, who got into a heated exchange with then-Oklahoma City Thunder star Westbrook last season at a Utah Jazz game, filed a lawsuit against both Westbrook and the Jazz seeking the extraordinary sum of money.
Shane Keisel, who received a lifetime ban from Vivint Smart Home Arena, claims that he and his girlfriend engaged “only in typical crowd behaviour” at the game last March, but was subjected to a “tirade” from an “irate” Westbrook, according to a report from the Salt Lake Tribune.
Witness recounts confrontation between Russell Westbrook and Jazz fan pic.twitter.com/fZFbbsVM1n— 👑 (@BlockMeCowards) December 17, 2019
Westbrook, who now plays for the Houston Rockets, could be seen on video arguing with a fan in the crowd near the end of the game.
“I promise you,” Westbrook yelled at Keisel. “You think I’m playing? I swear to God. I swear to God. I’ll f--k you up. You and your wife. I’ll f--k you up.”
Westbrook said that Keisel told him to “get down on your knees like you used to,” which sparked the incident.
Keisel, however, claims he only told Westbrook to “wrap his knees to be better able to play later on in the game.”
“The crowd was shocked by the ferocity of Mr. Westbrook’s outburst when he had only been told to take care of his knees,” the lawsuit states, via the Salt Lake Tribune, “albeit in a mocking manner that implied he would need to use them extensively to ensure his team’s victory.”
Keisel is also seeking a public apology in the lawsuit, and his girlfriend is seeking $32 million in damages — bringing the grand total to $100 million.
Keisel claims both he and his family have been harassed in the wake of the incident, causing him to install new locks and security cameras at home and alter his driving route.
“In public, people have stopped, point out, and taken photographs of Mr. Keisel and his family," the lawsuit states, via the Salt Lake Tribune, “causing Mr. Keisel to avoid going out in public except when necessary.”
Westbrook stood by his behaviour after the game and garnered wide support from across the league, too, calling Keisel’s comments “completely disrespectful” and “racial.”
Keisel — a former Utah Highway Patrol Sergeant — denied directing racist comments toward Westbrook, however multiple tweets from his since-deleted Twitter account surfaced containing both physical threats and racist remarks toward Westbrook.
The Jazz issued a lifetime ban the day after the game after “an investigation through video review and eyewitness accounts,” and stood by that ban on Monday.
“We believe there is no legal or factual basis for these claims against the Utah Jazz,” the team said in a statement, via Andy Larsen of the Salt Lake Tribune. “The organization investigated the underlying incident and acted in an appropriate and responsible manner. We intend to vigorously defend the lawsuit.”
Yahoo Sports US