The Oklahoma City Thunder picked up an important win over the Utah Jazz on Monday night, but there's been little focus on the game. That's because, during the contest, a Jazz fan crossed the line while heckling Russell Westbrook, which caused the Thunder's All-Star guard to threaten the fan and his girlfriend.
While the fan claimed they didn't do anything wrong, the Jazz disagreed, NBA Code of Conduct." In the following days, Westbrook has received support from many across the league, a group that now includes Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James.him from the arena for "excessive and derogatory verbal abuse directed at a player during the game that violated the
Speaking to the media on Tuesday night following his incredible performance against the Bulls, LeBron offered his support for Westbrook. LeBron said that while he respects the fact that fans pay a lot of money to watch the games, it doesn't give them the freedom to cross the line.
On Russell Westbrook and the fan in Utah, LeBron James supports Westbrook and the Jazz for banning the fan. He added there’s a bold line, not a fine line, between cheering for your team and being disrespectful. “Everyone knows when you’re crossing that line.” pic.twitter.com/XiCEZcaWdw— Tania Ganguli (@taniaganguli) March 13, 2019
LeBron's full comments:
"As bad as social media is, the good thing of social media came out when they went through everything that he's said about Russ, about other people, in his little timeline. Obviously Russ is a very passionate guy, but Russ is married with three kids, a set of twins, and no matter if you like him or love him, or the way he plays the game, he's one of the most loyal people I know, one of the most down to earth people I know. That guy just took it to far on the other end. There could have been some words Russ could have said a little bit differently, but at the end of the day, he was in the right, that guy was in the wrong. I salute the Utah Jazz and their organization for doing what they did and we move forward.
The fans, I understand that they pay their hard-earned money to watch our beautiful game, to watch our beautiful players, and I respect that. But there's a fine line when you go to the disrespectful side on 'am I cheering my teammates on, am I heckling the opposing guy, or am I crossing the line?' There's a fine line -- where there's not a fine line, that line is very bold. Everyone knows when you're crossing that line."
LeBron is one of the most thoughtful players in the league, and this is another good quote from him. On this situation, in particular, it's very clear that the fan was completely in the wrong, and deserved to be banned from Jazz games.
But additionally, LeBron makes a great point about the interactions between fans and players at games. It's often mentioned as being a fine line between fun heckling and being disrespectful, and LeBron even uses that phrase himself at first. But as he later corrects himself, it's not a fine line at all.
Everyone knows what you should and shouldn't say to other people, and that doesn't change just because NBA players make a lot of money.