When you Google “Utah Jazz fans,” the term “racist” is one of the first things that follows.
Elijah Millsap, brother of Paul, was a player on the Jazz between 2014 and 2016, logging 67 total appearances. Yesterday, the Louisiana native came out on Twitter discussing bigotry in America, and while doing so, cited Jazz Vice President Dennis Lindsey for being a verbal abuser on this front, an allegation since denied by Lindsey himself.
Lindsey told Desert News that he categorically denied making the statement, but that was it.
Following the Jazz’s win over the Los Angeles Lakers last night, team head coach Quin Snyder (who donated $1,000 to this guy) deemed Millsap’s accusation unimaginable.
“Honestly, I don’t remember the conversation,” Snyder said. “I can’t fathom Dennis saying something like that.”
Jazz All-Star center Rudy Gobert added that he hadn’t heard of the incident, but will put forward his own independent investigation, to some degree.
“There was never any conversations about that [back then],” Gobert said. “I’m just going to reach out to him and find out. Until we have more information it’s hard to tell — it was six years ago. That’s why this kind of stuff is tough to understand. Hopefully we get more information.”
The Jazz themselves have an extensive history of having one of the NBA’s most racist fan bases. There was the infamous Russell Westbrook altercation, where a white fan referred to him as ‘boy.’ There was a separate encounter where a fan named Shane Keisel told Westbrook to, “Get on your knees like you’re used to,” by Westbrook’s recollection. (The fan was subsequently banned for life and later attempted to sue Westbrook and the Jazz.)
Two years ago, former NBA center turned author Etan Thomas wrote in The Guardian about Jazz fans following Westbrook’s confrontation:
“When it comes to racial abuse of the sort Westbrook alleged, Utah is as bad as it gets.“I can recall countless road trips looking around the arena in Salt Lake City and being shocked by the faces of hate glaring back from the crowd. Every away building is a hostile environment with passionate fans rooting for the home team and sometimes crossing the line. But in Utah, it’s different. There are abundantly clear racial undertones to the heckling that seem to hover in the arena.”
There were other run-ins with Kevin Durant and Steph Curry, which included Durant saying of Jazz fans, “The crowd is loud. They don’t care what they say to you.”
And Matt Barnes recalled several n-word drops during the Golden State Warriors’ visits in 2007.
“Couldn’t believe it. More N-words than probably [they] had Black people in the whole city, so it was a really racial situation and people say anything now because there’s no consequences for it,” Barnes told Colin Cowherd when discussing the racial slurs he heard during the Warriors’ Western Conference semifinals series against the Jazz that season.
But, of course, Millsap’s responses and mentions were partially filled by deniers and accusers after sharing his thread. We’ll leave these as accusations for now, but history tells us they may be more than just that.