Houston Rockets star Russell Westbrook’s camp is adamant that a fan lawsuit accusing the All-Star guard of overreacting to standard heckling during an altercation last March are meritless, according to a report on Tuesday.
The fan, Shane Keisel, filed suit against the Jazz and Westbrook in 4th District Court on Monday, months after Utah banned him for life following an altercation. In the lawsuit, Keisel denied Westbrook’s claim that he made racially charged remarks during the incident, which occurred while the NBA star was still a member of the Oklahoma City Thunder. Keisel alleges that Westbrook went on a “tirade” over basic heckling.
"The lawsuit is meritless,” a source close to Westbrook told TMZ Sports. “The Jazz conducted their own investigation of the guy's conduct at that game and based on their investigation, they decided to ban him from attending any future Jazz games."
The lawsuit seeks $68 million in damages for Keisel and $32 million for his girlfriend, Jennifer Huff. The couple also requested a public apology from Westbrook and the Jazz.
In the filing, attorneys for Keisel argue that the Jazz reached their determination without video evidence that corroborated Westbrook’s claims that the heckling was racial in nature. The Jazz banned Keisel from all future events at Vivint Smart Home Arena, the team’s home stadium, for “excessive and derogatory verbal abuse directed at the player.”
The Jazz also denied the lawsuit’s allegations.
"We believe there is no legal or factual basis for these claims against the Utah Jazz," the team said in a statement to FOX Business. "The organization investigated the underlying incident and acted in an appropriate and responsible manner. We intend to vigorously defend the lawsuit."
Westbrook said Keisel told him to “get down on your knees like you used to." A video in which Westbrook threatened Keisel and his girlfriend went viral on social media.
At the time, the NBA fined Westbrook $25,000 for his actions.