Russell Westbrook‘s altercation with a Utah Jazz fan is gaining volume as NBA veteran Etan Thomas reposted a tweet allegedly posted by the Utah fan last year. According to Thomas, that tweet proclaimed: “Russell Westbrook should go back to where he came from. #MAGA”. Explainers on the fan’s side will say there is no dog whistle in that tweet — that the fan merely meant Westbrook should return to OKC or to California where he’s from. The idea here is that Lakers fans in the 80s might have said Larry Bird should go back to where he came from and meant nothing racist by it — only that Bird should go back to Boston or French Lick and stop making trouble for Magic and Kareem.
But the #MAGA hashtag* signifies that there’s a dog whistle at work — that the statement means more than it appears to mean on the surface. It signifies that there is a racial component to the message, indicating that the Tweeter — allegedly Shane Keisel — meant that Westbrook should get out of America and return to somewhere his ancestors came from long before the great NBA MVP landed in OKC. Why else include #MAGA, but to indicate your dog whistle? Thomas shared his tweet specifically with Westbrook and the Utah Jazz, who have reportedly banned Keisel from Jazz games for life.
*MAGA stands for Make America Great Again, Donald Trump’s loaded campaign slogan.
So this was what the fan who @russwest44 got into it with tweeted last year ? Not saying I am excusing his reaction but I see the type of fan he was dealing with. Utah Jazz fans have always been some of the worst to be honest#nba #russellwestbrook #westbrook #utahjazz @utahjazz pic.twitter.com/9UxzCaagTF
— Etan Thomas (@etanthomas36) March 12, 2019