On Wednesday night after the Utah Jazz eliminated the Memphis Grizzlies in Game 5 of the first round of the NBA playoffs, video captured showed Tee Morant, the father of Grizzlies young star Ja Morant, thanking Jazz All-Star Donovan Mitchell for what the Jazz did to support his family in the aftermath of negative incidents with fans after Game 2 at Vivint Arena in Salt Lake City.
ESPN’s Tim MacMahon reported on May 27 that Tee Morant told him three separate incidents during Game 2 were either sexually explicit in nature or racially charged. In the following days, the Jazz indefinitely banned three fans from Vivint Arena and released a statement condemning the behavior, and numerous Utah players spoke out against the fan behavior.
Then as the series moved back to Salt Lake City Wednesday for Game 5 after Games 3 and 4 were in Memphis, new Jazz owner Ryan Smith provided courtside seats, lodging and a car for the Morant family.
In the video Wednesday, which was shared on Twitter by MacMahon, Tee Morant tells Mitchell, “Hey, yo, I’m goin’ for y’all right now. Why? Y’all didn’t have to do that. Y’all didn’t have to show love to us like that. Yo. No, but this is what I’m sayin’. When (expletive) goes bad and then you reach out, that’s how you bridge the gap. Most people don’t realize that.
“Hey, that’s why I appreciate you, and that’s why I hope the Jazz win the championship,” Morant continued, hugging Mitchell. “Hey, keep killin’ it, my guy.”
Tee Morant to Donovan Mitchell: “Y’all didn’t have to show us love like that. ... That’s why I hope the Jazz win the championship.”— Tim MacMahon (@espn_macmahon) June 3, 2021
Mitchell told ESPN, “For me, it was just the ultimate sign of respect.”
ESPN story: https://t.co/5iIPCGO485 pic.twitter.com/O977v5bB0d
In a story by MacMahon, he quotes Mitchell as saying among other things, “For me, it was just the ultimate sign of respect. You see him talking about the way he handled it, the way we went about it. For me, that’s just how you approach it. Things are going to happen, and you’ve got to show a side of gratitude — bridging that gap, like he said.
“The fact that he’s pulling for us is dope. We appreciate it. There’s just a lot of respect. Hard-fought series. I feel like Ja and I are going to have battles for a long time in our careers. This was just the first one, but there’s just a lot of respect all around.”
After MacMahon’s story was published, Ja Morant tweeted to thank his dad for showing respect to Mitchell and to thank the Jazz for what they did throughout the ordeal and wish them good luck throughout the rest of the playoffs.