The Oklahoma City Thunder went into Utah on Monday night and emerged with a hard fought 98-89 win against a team that’s become one of their chief rivals out West.
A year ago, the Jazz beat the Thunder in the first round of the playoffs in what was a contentious series and this season the Thunder have exacted revenge in the form of a 4-0 season series sweep after the win on Monday. While it’s great when games are competitive and at times emotional on the court, it can go too far when fans get involved.
That happened Monday when a heckler crossed a line with Russell Westbrook while he was on the bench, causing Westbrook to go off on him, telling the fan, ‘I’ll f*ck you up. You and your wife.’
That, of course, is going to attract plenty of attention, but in these instances we rarely know what it is to set off the player. Westbrook’s reaction probably wasn’t the best recourse in this situation, but obviously the fan said something that went too far for him to get a response like that.
Patrick Patterson, who was on the bench near Russ, offered the details on what that fan said, which we rarely get, defending Westbrook while also calling into question why players are the ones always punished when retaliating in kind when a fan crosses that line.
The league will surely offer some kind of response to Russ, likely in the form of a fine, but Patterson’s point is well taken. The fans in question were handed “warning cards,” letting them know if they said anything else that violated the fan code of conduct they’d be ejected, but Westbrook will likely not be afforded such leniency given the nature of his comments that were captured on video.