MEMPHIS, Tenn. (ABC4 Sports) – Donovan Mitchell and Quin Snyder wanted Ja Morant to know that the behavior exhibited by a few unruly fans during Game 2 of the Jazz-Grizzlies playoff series is unacceptable.
Three Jazz fans were banned indefinitely after alleged racist comments were made to Morant’s father at Vivint Arena Wednesday night.
“First, I’d like to apologize to Ja and his family,” Snyder said after Friday’s practice. “No one should have to be subjected to the kind of behavior that they were the other night. It’s deplorable. And the people that made those comments should be banned for life. I’m sorry for [his family] to have to endure that and as I said it’s deplorable and concerning and should not be tolerated.”
Mitchell echoed Snyder’s sentiments, saying the fans shouldn’t just be banned indefinitely, but for life.
“You’ve seen guys say that the way they would have handled it would be totally different,” Mitchell said. “It’s beyond unfortunate and it needs to change. It happened here. Trae [Young] got spit on in New York, [Russell Westbrook] getting popcorn thrown at him, and we obviously hear what’s going on in Boston, too. Enough is enough, man.
“I feel like banning them is great, but I don’t think they should be back. I understand there’s more to it than that, and I understand that that’s what the league and team is working on, but I feel like there’s no place for that in life, not even just in the game of basketball.”
Morant also spoke publicly about the harassment his family faced in Salt Lake City, and said while the incident is troubling, he is happy the way the Jazz organization reacted.
“Obviously, it’s very unacceptable what went on,” Morant said. “My family’s doing well. It’s just mind-blowing that that type of stuff still continues in the world today. But our focus now, me and my family, is Game 3. Probably go home, watch basketball with them tonight to prepare, and we’re very excited to be back home in Memphis, where we’re comfortable and have fans who embrace us and love us, treat us like their own.”
Morant said that when he looked to his family during Game 2, he knew something was wrong.
“I’ve heard about Utah before,” Morant said. “I invited a lot of people, double-digits for sure, and I know where they sit during the game, so anytime I get in my groove and getting to talking I always look to them because I know where they’re at and I know they’re probably talking the same just like me, so I actually get a lot of energy from them. I went on a little run in that third quarter, and I just happened to look up at my people and I see them talking with security.”
Mitchell also noted that the Jazz have a zero tolerance for this kind of behavior, and that the Jazz organization has done a lot of good for people in the community. But he was disgusted after hearing of the fans’ remarks to Morant’s family, especially given previous incidents in Utah and across the league.
“We’re at a point now, we’re a team that, we’re giving scholarships to underrepresented kids in the community and the majority of them are minorities,” Mitchell said. “And I feel like it’s kind of contradicting when stuff like this happens, and I feel like it’s kind of messed up that it happens. And it’s not just here, it’s not just a Utah thing. It’s happened here before. It’s happened a few times since I’ve been here. It’s something that I’m really passionate about because at the end of the day we play for the Jazz. So what you’re saying about Ja’s mother and father, you’re saying to my mother and father, Derrick Favor’s mother and father. It’s not like you’re speaking to the Grizzlies. You’re only speaking to a Black man, Black woman, and I feel like that’s first.”
The Jazz and Grizzlies are tied at one game a piece with Game 3 set for Saturday night in Memphis at 7:30 p.m.