LOS ANGELES — Emotions were already running high around the Clippers, a team right on the verge of their worst loss of the season—a home defeat to a Denver Nuggets team playing on the second night of a back-to-back without Nikola Jokic, Jamal Murray, or Aaron Gordon.
That’s when Russell Westbrook engaged in a verbal altercation with a heckler a few rows off mid-court—the disagreement started while the game was still in progress and continued after the final buzzer.
Russell Westbrook gets into an extended verbal exchange with a courtside heckler as Clippers lose 113-104 to Nuggets (minus Nikola Jokic, Jamal Murray, and Aaron Gordon) in LA.
– A referee and players from both teams intervene to cool tensions. pic.twitter.com/3gmUceJOcZ
— Ben Golliver (@BenGolliver) November 28, 2023
“You know, fans think they can say whatever they want. I’m not gonna say [what he said] now because it’s not appropriate but I’m just protecting myself,” Westbrook said after the game. “That’s about it. Not too much I can expand on that but just unfortunate that fans think they can get away with saying anything. Personally, I won’t allow it. I took a lot of people saying anything and getting away with it, but I won’t stand for it.”
When Westbrook started to jaw at the fan after the game, referee Lauren Holtkamp handled it well and got in front of Westbrook, then players from both teams—including the Nuggets’ De’Andre Jordan—came over to try and calm Westbrook and diffuse the situation. Westbrook’s answers postgame suggest the heckler said something about his family and Westbrook said while he let some stuff go in the past now he has to “stand on it.”
“Like I told you, any disrespect to me or family I won’t allow it,” Westbrook said.
Westbrook has a relatively lengthy history of getting into verbal spats with fans, most famously in Utah but in other locations as well. However, it’s rare for players to get into it with fans in their home arena.
Westbrook had 14 points and 11 rebounds off the bench but he couldn’t help a porous Clippers’ defense that watched their former teammate Reggie Jackson go off for 35 in a Denver win, 113-104.