Report: Jazz owner Ryan Smith gives courtside tickets to family, friends of Grizzlies star Ja Morant
After banning three fans who were involved in a verbal incident directed at family members of the Grizzlies star, team trying to make amends
According to an ESPN report, the Jazz owner has provided complimentary tickets for courtside seats, lodging and a car service for a group of five that includes Morant’s father, Tee.
The offer comes after the Jazz made national headlines following Game 2 of their series against the Grizzlies. During that game three fans were escorted out of the arena and subsequently banned after allegedly hurling vulgar and racist comments at Morant’s family.
“I know heckling,” Tee Morant told ESPN after the incident. “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.”
The incident was just one of many that occurred during the course of the first round of the playoffs that has shed a light on inappropriate fan behavior at NBA games.
On Monday night a fan stormed the court in Washington during the Wizards’ game against the Philadelphia 76ers and had to be tackled and detained by a security guard. A fan threw a bottle at Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving, Wizards guard Russell Westbrook had popcorn dumped on him by a fan, and Atlanta Hawks guard Trae Young was allegedly spit on.
Monday morning the Jazz’s Joe Ingles noted that while he’s never feared for his safety during an NBA game — pointing out that he’s played in Europe where fans are much more aggressive — he does feel that fans who cross the line deserve a harsh punishment for their actions.
“I don’t get what you get out of yelling at Ja Morant’s father or mom or sister or whoever it is, brother, sister, partner,” Ingles said. “The whole throwing thing I think is ridiculous. I think that’s just completely unnecessary and hope that those people get dealt with however the league wants to deal with those situations, but hopefully harshly.”
Multiple people from the Jazz, including Smith and Donovan Mitchell, publicly condemned the fans’ behavior directed at members of the Morant family that occurred at Vivint Arena, with the complimentary tickets being the latest attempt to make amends.
Ingles went on to implore fans to think about their actions and how they could impact people. What if you throw a bottle and you hit one of the ushers? What if you say something and someone’s child hears?
“We realize we’re in a privileged position doing what we do and making the money we make and the life we get to live, but it doesn’t give you permission to throw things at the athletes or staff or whoever is out there on the court,” Ingles said. “You’ve got to respect everyone that’s there ... but you can’t, you can’t be throwing stuff at people, you can’t be abusing other people’s family members.”