Jazz Governor Ryan Smith Apologizes to Ja Morant: 'We Are Embarrassed and Sorry'

Blake SchusterContributor IMay 28, 2021

SALT LAKE CITY, UT - MAY 26: Ja Morant #12 of the Memphis Grizzlies runs down the court during the game against the Utah Jazz during Round 1, Game 2 of the 2021 NBA Playoffs on May 26, 2021 at vivint.SmartHome Arena in Salt Lake City, Utah. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2021 NBAE (Photo by Jeff Swinger/NBAE via Getty Images)
Jeff Swinger/NBAE via Getty Images

Utah Jazz chairman Ryan Smith offered a public apology to the Memphis Grizzlies, Ja Morant and Morant's family after the point guard's parents were subjected to racist and harmful comments by three separate fans attending Game 2 of the Western Conference Quarterfinals on Wednesday. 

Ryan Smith @RyanQualtrics

Memphis Grizzlies and Morant family... we are embarrassed and sorry. The @UtahJazz have zero tolerance for offensive behavior. We are committed to creating a respectful, competitive environment. https://t.co/cLsKWSk1l1

On Thursday the Jazz handed down indefinite bans to three fans the organization identified during Utah's 141-129 victory. They were the third team to ban fans after Wednesday's playoff games. The Philadelphia 76ers indefinitely banned a season-ticket holder after he dumped popcorn on an injured Russell Westbrook, and the New York Knicks did the same after a fan was caught on video spitting at Atlanta Hawks star Trae Young. 

Smith is in his first year as the team's governor after purchasing the club from the Miller Family in October. 

"I know heckling," Tee Morant, Ja's father, 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."

Per MacMahon:

"Tee Morant said one fan made a sexually explicit remark to his wife, Jamie. Tee Morant, who was sitting a couple of seats over, confronted the man before security deescalated the situation, ejecting the Jazz fan.
"According to Tee Morant, another Jazz fan told him, 'I'll put a nickel in your back and watch you dance, boy.' Several other Jazz fans, who had been enjoying good-spirited trash talk with the Morants and their family friends, confronted that fan and alerted security. Tee Morant said he was shocked that the Jazz fan, who was ejected, made such a comment with the man's young daughter by his side."

Former NBA star Dwyane Wade—who purchased a minority share of the Jazz earlier this year—also called out the actions and offered his apologies to the Morant family.

(Note: Wade is an employee of Bleacher Report's parent company WarnerMedia and serves as creative director for B/R)

DWade @DwyaneWade

If we turn our backs on this kind of behavior we’re all apart of the problem. This will not be tolerated! Apologies once again to Ja and his family 🙏🏾🖤 https://t.co/uG9QSS5ZIF

Ja Morant @JaMorant

as they should . my family should be able cheer for me & my teammates without getting inappropriate shit said to them 💯 https://t.co/CWiJIpkq03

Ja Morant @JaMorant

my family told me they felt the love from all the other jazz fans who were around them 🤝 even bought each other drinks with a few. <br><br>those 3 just went too far 💯 https://t.co/1XvjXcPVOo

Jazz star Donovan Mitchell took to Twitter to express his dismay over the situation and said he was happy the fans were banned.

Donovan Mitchell @spidadmitchell

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! https://t.co/rfzj0T1W1r

In a statement released by the Jazz on Thursday, the organization reiterated its zero tolerance policy towards offensive and disruptive behavior. 

The rise in unruly fans attending postseason games led the NBA to release its own statement reiterating its code of conduct at all arenas. 

"The return of more NBA fans to our arenas has brought great excitement and energy to the start of the playoffs, but it is critical that we all show respect for players, officials and our fellow fans," the league said. "An enhanced fan code of conduct will be vigorously enforced in order to ensure a safe and respectful environment for all involved.”