SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – Three Jazz fans have been banned indefinitely after a “verbal altercation” during Game 2 of the playoff series against the Memphis Grizzlies.
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The fans were reportedly banned for heckling the family of Memphis Grizzlies point guard, Ja Morant.
The Jazz released the following statement on the incident:
“The Utah Jazz have zero tolerance for offensive or disruptive behavior. An incident occurred last night involving a verbal altercation during Game 2. Arena security staff intervened, and the investigation resulted in the removal and banning of three Jazz fans indefinitely. We apologize to all who were impacted by this unfortunate incident and condemn unacceptable fan behavior. The Utah Jazz are committed to ensuring a safe and respectful environment.”
Morant tweeted out that his family “should be able to cheer for me and my teammates without getting inappropriate s**t said to them.
Morant’s father, Tee Morant, told ESPN Thursday night that they were subjected to racist and lewd remarks. “I know heckling,” he told ESPN’s Tim MacMahon. “We were doing that the whole game. But that’s different than heckling. That’s straight up disrespectful. That was too far out of line. You don’t say nothing like that heckling. That’s beyond heckling.”
According to Tee Morant, another Jazz fan told him, “I’ll put a nickel in your back and watch you dance, boy.”
Tee Morant also told ESPN that one fan made a sexually explicit remark to his wife, Jamie. Morant confronted the man before security ejected the Jazz fan.
Jazz star Donovan Mitchell tweeted about the incident, writing, “I’m glad those fans were banned and they should never be allowed back…. this is ridiculous!!! The fact that these words are being thrown around to players and there families is ridiculous! Enough is enough smh!”
Jazz owner Ryan Smith also tweeted about the incident.
“Memphis Grizzlies and Morant family… we are embarrassed and sorry,” Smith wrote. The @UtahJazz have zero tolerance for offensive behavior. We are committed to creating a respectful, competitive environment.”
New part owner Dwyane Wade also shared his thoughts on Twitter.
“If we turn our backs on this kind of behavior we’re all apart of the problem,” Wade wrote. “This will not be tolerated! Apologies once again to Ja and his family.”
Ja Morant scored a franchise-record 47 points in Utah’s 141-129 win over the Grizzlies.
The announcement comes on the same day a Utah judge dismissed a lawsuit filed by Jazz fans against Russell Westbrook for claims of “defamation and emotional distress.”
In the lawsuit filed, Shane Keisel claims language he and his girlfriend, Jennifer Huff, used toward Westbrook was “the same kind and caliber as that of the other audience members in the section” — and not racist and derogatory, as the then-Oklahoma City Thunder star alleged at the time.
The lawsuit sought $100 million in damages on claims of defamation and emotional distress, per the lawsuit obtained by the Salt Lake Tribune.
After an OKC win, video of Westbrook saying, “I’ll f— you up” to Keisel and Huff while standing near the end of the Thunder bench went viral. Westbrook said it was an emotional reaction to Keisel telling him, “Get on your knees like you’re used to,” a comment Westbrook considered “completely disrespectful” and “racial.”
Keisel claimed at the time that he told Westbrook to “ice those knees up,” and in Monday’s lawsuit, he reiterated what he said to Westbrook, now a member of the Rockets, was mischaracterized. He added that his family has been harassed and he has lost work since the incident.
The Jazz banned Keisel permanently in March of 2019. The NBA fined Westbrook $25,000 “for directing profanity and threatening language to a fan.”