Jazz Governor Ryan Smith Apologizes to Ja Morant: 'We Are Embarrassed and Sorry'May 28, 2021
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.
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."
"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)
Jazz star Donovan Mitchell took to Twitter to express his dismay over the situation and said he was happy the fans were banned.
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.”