It was not exactly clear what Clippers center Montrezl Harrell said to Mavericks wing Luka Doncic following a heated moment during Game 2 of the first-round NBA playoff series between the two teams this weekend, but it was clear that it profane (it included “a**”) and that it ended with, “white boy.” Whatever the exact wording, Harrell was clearly offering a racially motivated lashing-out at Doncic, one that the NBA should not accept.
Harrell’s comment was caught on camera, his lips fairly easy to read. On Sunday, before the start of Game 4, Doncic and Harrell shook hands and embraced. During that moment, it appeared that Harrell spoke at length to Doncic, who nodded and patted Harrell on the side. It can’t be certain that Harrell was apologizing but it bore that appearance.
According to SI.com, Clippers coach offered an apology to Doncic and the words of warning he put forth to Harrell for the incident shown below.
“You just have to be careful,” Rivers said according to Chris Mannix. “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.”
Harrell Got Major Blowback for Doncic Comment From Jay Williams
Harrell, who had been jawing with Doncic at several points in the game, received significant blowback.
Most notable among those delivering that blowback came from former NBA player and ESPN analyst Jay Williams, who filmed a response to Harrell on Sunday morning and put Harrell’s words into the context of the Black Lives Matter movement, which has been embraced by the NBA. Said Williams, addressing Harrell:
I can only imagine if Luka Doncic had said something like that to you and it had 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. Luke would have lost all credibility in this space. Everybody would have been commenting on it. People would have asked LeBron about it, people would have asked Kawhi about it. Everybody would have had some kind of statement about. But it is not that big of a story because Trez said it about a Caucasian person.
Writer Gary Sheffield Jr. of OutKick agreed, and said the the NBA ought to suspend Harrell for the transgression, much as the league has done in the past with homophobic statements, even those delivered in the heat of a game.
“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,” Sheffield wrote. “The NBA has already set this precedent with gay slurs on the court, why not with racial-based insults as well?”
Clippers Established Early Lead Over Mavericks in Round 1
Doncic and the Mavs trailed the Clippers, 2-1, in their first-round series heading into Sunday afternoon’s game. Doncic, during the NBA restart, has been wearing “Enakopravnost” on his jersey, which means “Equality” in Slovenian.
Doncic injured his ankle in Game 3 and was uncertain to play for Game 4. But he did take on a starting role, even as fellow Mavericks star Kristaps Porzingis was held out with an injured knee. Doncic averaged 30.0 points, 9.7 assists and 10.1 rebounds during the eight seeding games during the NBA return. In the playoffs, he was averaging 27.7 points, 8.3 rebounds and 8.7 assists over the first three games.
Doncic had 15 points, 9 rebounds and 7 assists at halftime of Game 4.