The Utah Jazz have banned three fans from further attending events at Vivint Arena for a verbal incident that occurred during Game 2 of the first-round series between the Jazz and Memphis Grizzlies on Wednesday night.
The Jazz did not reveal specifics of the incident, but Grizzlies guard Ja Morant — who had family at the game — said the three people who were banned “just went too far.” He also commented on the incident on Twitter, writing, “My family should be able cheer for me & my teammates without getting inappropriate [expletive] said to them.”
In a statement, the Jazz said: “The Utah Jazz have zero tolerance for offensive or disruptive behavior. An incident occurred last night involving a verbal altercation during Game 2. Arena security staff intervened, and the investigation resulted in the removal and banning of three Jazz fans indefinitely. We apologize to all who were impacted by this unfortunate incident and condemn unacceptable fan behavior. The Utah Jazz are committed to ensuring a safe and respectful environment.”
In an interview with ESPN’s Tim MacMahon, Morant’s father, Tee Morant, said there were three separate incidents with male Jazz fans. Per Tee Morant, each of those incidents was handled quickly by Vivint Arena security.
“I know heckling,” Tee Morant said in a phone interview with ESPN on Thursday evening. “We were doing that the whole game. But that’s different than heckling. That’s straight up disrespectful. That was too far out of line. You don’t say nothing like that heckling. That’s beyond heckling.”
New Jazz owner Ryan Smith wrote in a tweet Thursday: “Memphis Grizzlies and Morant family … we are embarrassed and sorry. The @utahjazz have zero tolerance for offensive behavior. We are committed to creating a respectful, competitive environment.”
Morant later tweeted Thursday that despite the interaction his family members had with those Jazz fans, the other Jazz fans in the building did not act similarly. “My family told me they felt the love from all the other jazz fans who were around them … even bought each other drinks with a few. Those 3 just went too far,” Morant wrote.
my family told me they felt the love from all the other jazz fans who were around them 🤝 even bought each other drinks with a few.
those 3 just went too far 💯 https://t.co/1XvjXcPVOo
— Ja Morant (@JaMorant) May 28, 2021
Jazz star Donovan Mitchell also took to social media to voice his displeasure about the behavior of those fans, writing: “I’m glad those fans were banned and they should never be allowed back … this is ridiculous!!! The fact that these words are being thrown around to players and there families is ridiculous! Enough is enough smh!”
I’m glad those fans were banned and they should never be allowed back…. this is ridiculous!!! The fact that these words are being thrown around to players and there families is ridiculous! Enough is enough smh! https://t.co/rfzj0T1W1r
— Donovan Mitchell (@spidadmitchell) May 28, 2021
The New York Knicks and Philadelphia 76ers each banned a fan from their respective arenas and issued apologies Thursday for incidents during playoff games, and the NBA said that rules surrounding fan behavior will be “vigorously enforced” going forward.
Both incidents took place during playoff games Wednesday. The Knicks said they banned a fan from Madison Square Garden for spitting on Atlanta guard Trae Young, while the 76ers banned a fan who threw popcorn on Washington guard Russell Westbrook.
On Wednesday, the NBA released a statement on fan behavior at arenas that said: “The return of more NBA fans to our arenas has brought great excitement and energy to the start of the playoffs, but it is critical that we all show respect for players, officials and our fellow fans. An enhanced fan code of conduct will be vigorously enforced in order to ensure a safe and respectful environment for all involved.”
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.