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Fan banned for life sues Utah Jazz, Russell Westbrook

Oklahoma City Thunder's Russell Westbrook gets into a heated verbal altercation with fans in the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Utah Jazz, Monday, March 11, 2019, in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Jazz fan who was banned for life is now suing the team and a player for millions of dollars.

Back in March, Russell Westbrook said a fan shouted racist comments at him during a game at Vivint Arena. Shane Keisel was then given a lifetime ban.

 

In this lawsuit filed Monday, Keisel’s attorneys argue he never made the racist remarks, instead it was only normal crowd heckling when Westbrook tore into him with a tirade.

 

The lawsuit says Keisel was cast in a bad light, his character became defamed, he lost his job and got death threats.

One of Keisel’s lawyers, Scott Hoyt, says they’ve done their own investigating and have some questions.

“We did a thorough investigation of everyone we could find that was within earshot of this incident and no one said they heard anything racial,” he says.

He adds that it’s Keisel, not Westbrook, who has become the victim in this ordeal.

Keisel’s portion of the suit is for $68-million, while his girlfriend is also seeking $32-million.

“The amount is substantial because this has literally destroyed Shane Keisel’s life and pretty much his girlfriend’s, as well,” said Hoyt.

“They’ve had to change names, change emails, change phone numbers to avoid the death threats and the harassment.”

A statement from the Jazz reads, “We believe there is no legal or factual basis for these claims against the Utah Jazz. The organization investigated the underlying incident and acted in an appropriate and responsible manner. We intend to vigorously defend the lawsuit.”

Hoyt argues that statement is hypocritical.

“They proceeded to go out and make a public statement that we are not a racist community, thereby labeling Mr. Keisel as a racist,” he explains. “In complete contradiction to their own investigation and witness statements.”

John Wojcik contributed to this report.