Sports

NBA Player Goes Unpunished for In-Game Racial Insult to White Opponent

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Los Angeles Clippers forward Montrezl Harrell touched off a debate over a double standard in the NBA on Friday when he insulted an opponent using race-based language.

Harrell, who is black, faced no punishment from the league for calling Dallas Mavericks star Luka Doncic a “b— a– white boy.”

The incident followed a collision and some heated conversation between the players.

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Clippers coach Doc Rivers said Harrell heard from him about the incident, according to Sports Illustrated.

“You just have to be careful,” Rivers said. “They both were talking. I don’t think Luka was saying anything racial, but he was swearing. So they both were doing it. It’s an emotional game. It’s a playground game out there in the playoffs. I said to him, ‘Hey, I don’t think you meant anything racially by it.’ He said ‘white boy,’ but I don’t think there was anything racial intended.”

“But we are in a very heightened climate, and you have to be careful. Trez was the first one to say that. He said, ‘I didn’t mean that racially.’ And I said it doesn’t matter. It’s what’s perceived … make sure you do the right thing.”

A league spokesman said the NBA “addressed the incident with Harrell,” according to Sports Illustrated.

Harrell later posted a comment on Twitter saying he “cleared the air” with Doncic.

“It was OK. No worries,” Doncic said Sunday, according to USA Today. “A lot of emotions on the court, especially with the playoffs. Sometimes you say things you don’t want to say. He apologized. I respect that. So no problems.”

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In writing about the incident, Dan Feldman of NBC Sports said, “Let’s just jump straight to the question that always comes up: What if Doncic called Harrell a “b****-a** black boy? It’d be different.”

Feldman said there is a reason invective can only flow one way between races.

“There is a long and deep history of white people using racism — perpetuated, among other ways, by language — to repress Black people. The same isn’t true the other way. Anti-Black words have more power. Disparaging words about white people have been far more harmless,” he wrote.

Does the NBA have a double standard on racial insults?

ESPN’s Jay Williams, however, condemned Harrell’s actions in a video posted to Twitter on Sunday.

“I am no lip-reader, but damn, Trez. Damn Montrezl,” Williams said. “I can only imagine if Luka Doncic had said something like that to you and it got caught on tape. I can only imagine during Black Lives Matter how much of a big deal that would have been, considering today’s climate and state. It would have been a massive story. Luka would’ve lost all credibility in this space.

“Everybody would’ve been commenting on it. People would’ve asked LeBron [James] about it. People would’ve asked Kawhi [Leonard] about it. Everyone would’ve had some kind of statement about it.

“But it’s not that big of a story, because Trez said it to a caucasian person. It should be a big story, because it’s not acceptable, man.”

Gary Sheffield Jr., writing for Outkick the Coverage, said the NBA cannot be for equality and still have a double standard.

“The solution here is simple, even if many won’t like it: the NBA has to suspend Montrezl Harrell and send a message that race-based derogatory comments like his on the basketball court won’t be tolerated. The NBA has already set this precedent with gay slurs on the court, why not with racial-based insults as well?” he wrote.

Noting that a race-based insult from Doncic would have drawn vast condemnation, Sheffield wrote, “That discrepancy isn’t healthy for our country or the NBA. We need to work towards common standards for all, regardless of race. If Luka’s comments would be unacceptable and greeted with a suspension then so should Harrell’s.”

“If Luka screamed a hateful message rooted in race to Harrell would the black community lend an ounce of defense for him?” he added. “Not a chance. So we shouldn’t do it for Harrell either. We all need to try and treat everyone equally, not setting up a scoreboard of acceptable sports behavior based on the race of the speaker.”

“Equality can’t just be a slogan in the NBA, it has to be a promise too,” Sheffield said.

Doncic sent a message of his own Sunday, nailing a buzzer-beating 3-pointer to seal the Mavs’ 135-133 overtime win and even the series at 2-2.

The 21-year-old Slovenian finished with 43 points, 17 rebounds and 13 assists.

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Jack Davis is a freelance writer who joined The Western Journal in July 2015 and chronicled the campaign that saw President Donald Trump elected. Since then, he has written extensively for The Western Journal on the Trump administration as well as foreign policy and military issues.
Jack Davis is a freelance writer who joined The Western Journal in July 2015 and chronicled the campaign that saw President Donald Trump elected. Since then, he has written extensively for The Western Journal on the Trump administration as well as foreign policy and military issues.
Jack can be reached at jackwritings1@gmail.com.
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Politics, Foreign Policy, Military & Defense Issues




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