Shane Keisel, who received a lifetime ban from Vivint Smart Home Arena in Utah for directing racially charged language at Russell Westbrook, is suing the Jazz and the Houston Rockets guard.
According to the Salt Lake City Tribune, the lawsuit was filed on Monday and claims that language Keisel 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 said at the time.
Keisel and Huff are seeking $100 million dollars in damages, citing defamation and emotional distress.
After a win in Utah, then a member of the Thunder, video leaked of Westbrook saying, “I’ll f— you up” to Keisel and Huff while standing near the end of the Thunder bench.
Westbrook said it was in response to Keisel telling him, “Get on your knees like you’re used to,” a comment Westbrook considered “completely disrespectful” and “racial.”
At the time Keisel claimed he said “ice those knees up,” an assertion he maintains in the lawsuit.
He added that his family has been harassed and that he has lost work since the incident.
The Jazz conducted an investigation, and Keisel was banned for life and the NBA fined Westbrook $25,000 for directing profanity at a fan.
“The organization investigated the underlying incident and acted in an appropriate and responsible manner,” Frank Zang, senior vice president of communications for Larry H. Miller Sports and Entertainment, told the Tribune. “We intend to vigorously defend the lawsuit.”