Jazz owner Gail Miller issues statement on NBA code of conduct, fan behavior

Shane Keisel (inset) has been banned for life by the Utah Jazz after owners say he verbally attacked Oklahoma City player Russell Westbrook. Photos: Twitter (inset) and Wikimedia Commons/Keith Allison

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, March 14, 2019 (Gephardt Daily) — Utah Jazz owner Gail Miller issued a statement Thursday regarding the NBA code of conduct after a fan was banned for life after he reportedly taunted Oklahoma City Thunder player Russell Westbrook Monday.

The exchange took place during a game in Salt Lake City, and when Westbrook responded, and the exchange became heated. Westbrook told reporters the fan said “get down on your knees like you’re used to,” which Westbrook considered to be a racially inspired comment.

Westbrook admits he threatened the fan. A video of the encounter shows Westbrook saying “I promise you. You think I’m playing? I swear to God. I swear to God. I’ll **** you up. You and your wife. I’ll **** you up.”

The NBA announced Tuesday that Westbrook has been fined $25,000 for “directing profanity and threatening language to a fan.”

Also on Tuesday afternoon, the Utah Jazz and Larry H. Miller Group announced a permanent ban of fan, Shane Keisel, who the Jazz says verbally abused Westbrook Monday night at Vivint Smart Home Arena.

Miller’s email — sent Thursday at 5:38 p.m. ahead of Thursday night’s Jazz game against the Minnesota Timberwolves at 7 p.m. — reads in full:

Jazz Fans,

In light of recent events, we want to address fan behavior and how we choose to express the passion we all have for the Utah Jazz.

Whether it’s online through social media, at gatherings with friends and family, or at the arena on game nights, we help the world Take Note of our team. Because of this, we all have a shared responsibility to represent the Utah Jazz and the community in the right way. 

Gail Miller. Photo: Salt Lake Chamber

The Utah Jazz will strictly enforce the NBA Fan Code of Conduct with zero tolerance

We do not permit hate speech, racism, sexism or homophobia. We also do not allow disruptive behavior, including bullying, foul or abusive language, or obscene gestures. Violators may be subject to ejection and other penalties, including a lifetime ban.

If you see or hear anything that violates our standards, please say something. Report any violations to the nearest Guest Services or Security staff member. You can also use the arena text line (801-901-8111) and an arena representative will respond to address the matter. 

Now, let us be clear: we want you to be loud. You’re the reason we have the best home-court advantage in the league, and we want to keep it that way. We have a unique arena that provides the crowd with close proximity to the court and an increased ability to affect the game. Players and coaches on both teams can hear you, and we expect all fans to respect them—as well as the game officials, arena employees, and other fans at the arena. 

We all have a responsibility to respect the game of basketball and, more importantly, each other as human beings. This has always been a hallmark of our incredible fan base and should forever be our standard moving forward.

Gail Miller – Owner, Utah Jazz
Steve Starks – President, Utah Jazz

The prepared statement that announced the ban of Keisel said:

“The ban is effective immediately and includes all arena events. The organization conducted an investigation through video review and eyewitness accounts. The ban is based on excessive and derogatory verbal abuse directed at a player during the game that violated the NBA Code of Conduct.

“The Utah Jazz will not tolerate fans who act inappropriately. There is no place in our game for personal attacks or disrespect.”

Keisel, a former Utah Highway Patrol employee, maintains he did nothing wrong.

In an interview after the game he told reporters that what at first seemed like a good natured exchange took an ominous turn when he told Westbrook, to quote, “Sit down and ice your knees, bro.”

He said it was then that Westbrook threatened him and his wife.

“He can threaten me all he wants,” Keisel said. “I was the one talking to him, but don’t threaten a woman. She’s five feet tall and 110 pounds, man. Never said a word to him. Her first NBA game ever. Welcome to the NBA, Jen.”

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