As Mills was attempting a pair of free throws with 2:29 remaining in San Antonio’s 110-94 victory, a spectator could be heard on the ABC broadcast twice shouting, “Jamaica called. They want their bobsledder back.” A Twitter user captured the footage and shared it on her social media account.
@KingJames am I the only one who heard this guy in the crowd yell “hey Jamaican dog they want their bobsledder back! Hey @Patty_Mills Jamaica just called, they want their bobsledder back!” ♀️ #SundayFunday ??? @NBA pic.twitter.com/RvHdu88Gzd
— Zandra Ashley (@thats_Z_Truth) February 25, 2018
According to both Cleveland.com and ESPN, the Cavaliers launched an investigation in an attempt to identify the fan in question by perusing video footage inside the arena and interviewing spectators in the area. By Tuesday, the team had banned the fan from Quicken Loans Arena for at least one year.
#Cavs were able to identify the person who made the racial slur towards Patty Mills on Sunday. That person has been banned from all Q events indefinitely. The first time that incident will be reviewed will be no sooner than one year.
— Chris Fedor (@ChrisFedor) February 27, 2018
Mills was born in Australia, nowhere near Jamaica, to an Aboriginal Australian mother and a Torres Strait Islander father. (Torres Strait is an island between mainland Australia and Papua New Guinea.)
Mills ignored the offending spectator during the game and sank both free throws. Afterwards, he thanked the Twitter user who shared the video for her efforts to “enlighten this confused, hateful fan.”
Thanks @thats_Z_Truth. I am a proud Islander. Like my Jamaican Brothers, me & my family in the islands of the Torres Strait have experienced racial slurs for decades. Hope your efforts will enlighten this confused, hateful fan. #BlackHistoryMonth https://t.co/yH3nKlGv4A
— Patrick Mills (@Patty_Mills) February 26, 2018
— Tom Orsborn (@tom_orsborn) February 26, 2018
The incident occurred just hours after Spurs coach Gregg Popovich praised Cavaliers star LeBron James during his pregame media session for speaking out against racial inequality. Earlier this month, Popovich said, “We live in a racist country that hasn’t figured it out yet. It’s always important to bring attention to it, even if it angers some people.” Sunday in Cleveland really drove that point home.
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