‘We are not a racist community’ – Utah Jazz owner Gail Miller addresses Westbrook incident


SALT LAKE CITY — Utah Jazz owner Gail Miller read a statement at Thursday’s night home game in which she shared her thoughts about Monday’s verbal altercation between a Jazz fan and Oklahoma City Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook.

“This should never happen. We are not a racist community. We believe in treating people with courtesy and respect as human beings. From time to time, individual fans exhibit poor behavior and forget their manners. Some disrespect players on other teams. When that happens, I want to jump up and shout ‘Stop!’, Miller said. (Scroll down to read her full statement .)

Westbrook said an attendee at Monday’s game made a disrespectful and racial comment directed at him.

“A young man and his wife in the stands told me to ‘Get down on my knees like I used to,'” Westbrook said.

A video shared on social media that night shows Westbrook yelling “I’ll f— you up! You and your wife! I’ll f— you up!” at the fan. Westbrook was fined $25,000 for his role in the incident.

On Tuesday, the Utah Jazz and Larry H. Miller Group announced the other party involved in the verbal altercation has been permanently banned from all events at Vivint Smart Home Arena.

The incident prompted another Jazz fan to launch a GoFundMe campaign in which he hopes Jazz fans will raise $25,000 for the Human Rights Campaign. The campaign has raised nearly $15,000 as of Friday morning.

Read Gail Miller’s full statement:
Thank you. I’d like to read a message that I have written so that it’s very clear to all of you. As the owner of the Utah Jazz, I feel it’s important for me to take this opportunity to express some thoughts and concerns about the unfortunate event that happened Monday night.

I am extremely disappointed that one of our “fans” conducted himself in such a way as to offend not only a guest in our arena but also me personally, my family, our organization, the community, our players and you as the best fans in the NBA. This should never happen. We are not a racist community. We believe in treating people with courtesy and respect as human beings.

From time to time, individual fans exhibit poor behavior and forget their manners. Some disrespect players on other teams. When that happens, I want to jump up and shout “Stop!”

We have a code of conduct in this arena. It will be strictly enforced. Everyone who comes here—visiting teams included—reserves the right and the expectation to be treated with dignity at all times. When bad incidents like Monday night happen, it not only affects the player it’s directed at, it also affects our players.

Other teams are not our enemies. They are our competition. Competition is a good thing. It allows players to showcase their talents and it allows fans to encourage, appreciate, cheer for and enjoy those who share their talents with us. Our family has been stewards of this team for 34 years. We love sharing it with all of you and receiving your support.

It is also important that you support our players as citizens of our community and treat them and their families with respect. They have chosen to become part of our community and they make us richer with their diversity. My heartfelt request to all of you is that, from this time forward, we all take pride in holding ourselves and those around us to the highest standard of decency.

Use your energy cheering our team with your honest, sincere enthusiasm rather than degrading or demeaning players on the opposing team. No one wins when respect goes away. Let’s be the supporting fans that our players know and deserve. Thank you and Go Jazz!

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