The story of the week in the NBA was the verbal altercation between Russell Westbrook and a Jazz fan in Utah, in which Westbrook told the fan, “I’ll f*ck you up,” after the fan told him to “get on your knees like you’re used to,” per Westbrook and a number of his teammates.
The incident sparked an investigation by the Jazz, which led to the fan being banned for life from Vivint Smart Home Arena, as well as the NBPA to call on the league to institute a “zero tolerance” policy for fans violating the code of conduct, rather than the current “warning card” system for first offenses. There’s been plenty of discussion in recent days about heckling, where the line is for fans talking to players, and what can be done to protect players.
It also created a lot of conversation about fans in Utah in particular, where players have remarked about especially bad things said to them by fans in the past. Jazz fans, of course, weren’t pleased with the entire fan base being depicted this way, so some have decided to try and do something positive in the wake of the Westbrook incident.
Devin Deaton launched a GoFundMe with the goal of raising $25,000, the same amount as Russell Westbrook’s fine from the NBA, to donate to the Human Rights Campaign Foundation. Deaton calls on Jazz fans to show their “true colors” and donate to a good cause in an effort to shed a positive light on the fan base.
It is time to change the narrative on citizens of Utah, fans of the Jazz and those that call Utah ‘home’. We are not a bunch of redneck, racist, bigots. Most of us are dads, moms, friends, hard-workers, kind-hearted, do right by each other, help our fellow man, good neighbors and welcoming to all.
I have been a Utah Jazz fan my entire life. My family has had season tickets on the 2nd row since I was 5 years old. I have been to 100+ Jazz games and had friendly banter with players from Charles Barkley to Russell Westbrook and every era in between. I have never personally experience racism or bigotry. I pride myself in being respectful to the players. I want the national media to see who we really are. #HumaneJazzFans #TakeNote
At the time of publishing, the campaign had raised over $7,500 of the $25,000 goal, and it’s certainly a positive reaction to what was an unfortunate incident.