Look: Donovan Mitchell, Jazz and Nets Players Wear T-Shirts Denouncing Racism

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistMarch 17, 2019

Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell wears a solidarity T-shirt, during warm-ups before the start of their NBA basketball game against the Brooklyn Nets Saturday, March 16, 2019, in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
Rick Bowmer/Associated Press

The Utah Jazz and Brooklyn Nets wore T-shirts with a message of unity and a denouncement of racism ahead of their Saturday night matchup.

The shirts came in the wake of Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook saying a fan racially harassed him during a game in Utah earlier in the week.

A group of Jazz players—Donovan Mitchell, Ekpe Udoh, Thabo Sefolosha, Jae Crowder and Royce O'Neale—came up with the idea for the shirts, according to Ryan McDonald of the Deseret News, which included an image of black and white hands held together and a quote from activist Fred Hampton: "You don't fight racism with racism, you fight racism with solidarity."

Deseret News Sports @desnewssports

Utah Jazz players, staff wear shirts denouncing racism before game against Brooklyn Nets https://t.co/766l7qkbDh https://t.co/7ZihUqDjg4

Utah Jazz @utahjazz

Count it down ⏰ https://t.co/7aZrdMYthE

"For everybody to come to this game and wear the shirt, both teams, the owners, president, says a lot for bringing this together," Udoh said after Utah's 114-98 win. "We're ready to attack this conversation and make a better community across the world."

"That quote specifically, it shows what we stand for," Mitchell added. "I think it's huge because solidarity is togetherness, being together, being united on all fronts. This particular instance was about race, but it's with all fronts."

The shirts came in response to an incident Monday. Westbrook said a Utah couple told him to "get down on your knees like you're used to," per Tim MacMahon of ESPN.com. Westbrook responded angrily, saying in part, "I swear to God, I swear to God, I'll f--k you up. You and your wife, I'll f--k you up."

While Westbrook's teammate, Raymond Felton, backed up his account after the game, the NBA fined Westbrook $25,000 for "directing profanity and threatening language to a fan." 

Mitchell and Sefolosha, meanwhile, were supportive of Westbrook after the game:

Donovan Mitchell @spidadmitchell

We have to do better... we will do better! 💯 https://t.co/heBO4z66TY

"I stand 100 percent with Russell Westbrook on what happened in yesterday's game," Sefolosha wrote on Instagram. "I love our fans but there are limits that can not be crossed! Support and cheer for your team and enjoy the action but fans like Shane Keisel, who use that platform to spur their hateful and racist views need to be held accountable."

For the Jazz, Saturday's shirts were a chance to make an important statement about racism and unity in the face of Monday's incident.

"Obviously we have a bit of a mission here as a team, as an organization, here in the city to use our platform and our voices to bring more people into this conversation and have more people be aware of what’s going on," Kyle Korver noted. "This is just a small part of that."