April 15, 2024

LOS ANGELES — Russell Westbrook said he will not tolerate fans saying anything personal about him or his family after engaging in a heated exchange with a fan at the end of the LA Clippers113-104 loss to the short-handed Denver Nuggets on Monday night.

With 30 seconds remaining and the Nuggets up 113-102, the Clippers inbounded the ball as Westbrook stood at midcourt and talked back to a fan who was sitting behind the courtside seats.

“I mean, it’s unfortunate,” Westbrook said after the Clippers suffered a frustrating loss to a Nuggets team that played without Nikola Jokic, Jamal Murray and Aaron Gordon at Crypto.com Arena. “Fans think they can say whatever they want. I’m not going to say [what was said] now because it’s not appropriate, but I’m just protecting myself.

“It’s just unfortunate fans think they can get away with saying anything and, personally, I won’t allow it. I’ve [taken] a lot of people saying anything and getting away with it, but I won’t stand for it.”

Referee Lauren Holtkamp stood in front of Westbrook to make sure nothing happened as play went down the court. But after the buzzer sounded at the game’s end, Westbrook returned to midcourt, where fans appeared to be gesturing toward the Clippers point guard.

Holtkamp, Nuggets guard Justin Holiday, Clippers security and arena security, along with Westbrook’s Clippers teammate Daniel Theis, all came over to make sure tensions did not escalate.

Last season during the first-round playoff series between the Clippers and Suns in Phoenix, Westbrook had a verbal confrontation with a Suns fan as players were using a shortcut through a club area from the locker room to go to the court.

When Westbrook was with the Washington Wizards in May 2021, a fan at a playoff game in Philadelphia dumped popcorn on him as he was leaving the court following a right ankle injury. Westbrook had to be held back by Wizards staffers and arena security guards.

And in 2019, a fan in Utah earned a lifetime ban from what was then called the Vivint Smart Home Arena following a verbal altercation with Westbrook while he was with the Oklahoma City Thunder.

“I understand fans are enjoying the game and feeling up to whatever that may be,” Westbrook said. “I guess they feel they can kind of say whatever, but this is our job … all the negative comments about family and things of that nature, I would kind of stay away from. But anything else, they can kind of say what they want.”

Westbrook reiterated that he will not stand by and listen to fans verbally attack him or his family.

“Now having kids and understanding how important it is, not just myself but my last name,” Westbrook said. “Understanding what Westbrook means, understanding how important that is to my dad, my grandfather, my family. It’s very important. It’s something I stand on, and the respect is a big thing that I value.

“So the moment that line gets crossed, I won’t allow [it] no more. I’ve stood for it for years, and now my son is old enough to know what’s going on, asking me, ‘Hey Dad, what does that mean? What’s that?’ Now I got to stand on it, and regardless of where I’m at, what’s going on, I’m always standing on that.”

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