Memphis guard Ja Morant says the treatment of his family during Game 2 in Utah was “very unacceptable.”
The New York Knicks, Philadelphia 76ers and Utah Jazz banned a total of five fans from their arenas and issued apologies Thursday for incidents during playoff games, and the NBA said that rules surrounding fan behaviour will be “vigorously enforced” going forward.
Fans harassed Morant’s family during Utah’s 141-129 victory Wednesday night, and the Jazz banned three fans the next day.
“Obviously, it’s very unacceptable what went on,” Morant said Friday night. “My family’s doing well. I mean it’s just mind-blowing that type of stuff still continues in the world today.”
Morant brought a bunch of his family to the games in Utah and they were in the middle of Jazz fans. Some laughed and joked with his family, and Morant said some fans stood up to the three who were banned.
He noticed his family talking to security during the third quarter, asked the team’s security to tell his family to not even cheer anymore and stay calm. Morant, who finished with a franchise-record 47 points, was frustrated to learn what those fans said to his family.
“If I knew what they said, I would’ve let my family handle business instead of trying to calm them down,” Morant said. “Obviously, it’s tough on all of us, but we move forward. Obviously, we’re going to continue to speak up and try to stop this. We’re glad Utah did what they did to those fans.”
But Morant also said he isn’t sure if his family will travel to Utah when this series returns for Game 5. He suggested the NBA consider keeping players’ families together in sections on the road to keep them safe.
Memphis coach Taylor Jenkins said the Grizzlies have talked amongst themselves and with both the Jazz and the NBA and called the sexist and racist remarks made “beyond disappointing.”
“Everyone’s been cooped up with COVID and staying home and clamouring for sports and being back in social arenas and atmospheres, and this is what you do?” Jenkins said. ‘It’s at the core of humanity that needs to get addressed. And I’m just beyond disappointed.”
Utah coach Quin Snyder apologised to Morant and his family.
“No one should have to be subjected to the kind of behaviour that they were the other night,” Snyder said. “It’s deplorable, and the people that made those comments should be banned, banned for life.”
Meanwhile, Atlanta guard Trae Young has seen the video of a fan spitting on him and calls it “disgusting”.
Young was spit on by a fan at Madison Square Garden during the Hawks’ 101-92 loss Wednesday night. That fan also has been banned by the Knicks. Young told ESPN before Game 3 on Friday night in Atlanta he has no problem with what fans say or chant. Spitting is “uncalled for in any arena or environment.”
“I don’t know if it got on my jersey or my shorts or what not, but I didn’t feel it,” Young said. “I saw the video, and it’s disgusting.”