By TIM REYNOLDS AP Basketball Writer
The Utah Jazz said they will “thoroughly investigate” an allegation from former NBA player Elijah Millsap that longtime team executive Dennis Lindsey directed a bigoted statement toward him during an end-of-season exit interview in 2015.
Millsap, the brother of former Jazz standout and current Denver forward Paul Millsap, made the allegation in a tweet Wednesday. Millsap alleged that Lindsey, then the team’s general manager, said “if u say one more word, I’ll cut your Black ass and send you back to Louisiana.”
Lindsey, now the team’s executive vice president, has denied saying that.
“The Jazz organization has zero tolerance for discriminatory behavior of any kind,” the team said in a statement Thursday night. “We take these matters seriously. We have proactively engaged outside counsel to work in coordination with the NBA to thoroughly investigate this matter. We seek a comprehensive and unbiased review of the situation.”
Millsap did not immediately respond to a message seeking reaction to the Jazz statement and the opening of an investigation. He tweeted later Wednesday that he felt telling his side of “my narrative … will teach my sons how to stand up and control their own. Inspired by the courageous souls who fight for racial equality and social justice daily.”
Coach Quin Snyder said Wednesday that he doesn’t remember the 2015 interview with Millsap.
“I’d be shocked. I can’t fathom Dennis saying something like that,” Snyder said.
Jazz center Rudy Gobert also seemed to be taken by surprise by the allegation.
“I never heard about it,” Gobert said. “Elijah was actually one of the guys that I was close with when he was part of the team a few years ago. 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 it’s kind of tough to understand.”
In his final interview with reporters when that 2014-15 season ended, Millsap spoke about how much he enjoyed joining the Jazz and seeing the team grow and did not mention any incident with Lindsey. It’s common for media end-of-season sessions to occur on the same day as the team exit interviews, but it is unknown if Millsap’s meeting with reporters was before or after his meeting with Lindsey and Snyder.
Millsap gave no indication of any unhappiness with the organization in the interview with reporters that day. He talked about his level of comfort with the team and with the city because of his brother’s long tenure with the Jazz, even saying that he knew the names of the ushers. Millsap also said he had “a pretty good relationship” with Snyder.
“We’ve been nip and tuck on some things, but we’ve always had the same interest and same goal in mind, and that’s winning,” Millsap said at that time of Snyder. “So, he’s going to put me in my position, put me in my place where I can be successful, and I’ve just got to listen and get better.”
The Jazz wound up waiving Millsap in January 2016, after 67 games with the team over two seasons. He averaged 4.2 points in those games and did not indicate any unhappiness in a farewell tweet after the team gave him the news.
“Thank You Jazz organization for the opportunity,” Millsap wrote on Jan. 5, 2016. “Really appreciate my teammates and all the Jazz fans for your love &support.” He closed the tweet with the hashtag “AlltheBest.”
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