SALT LAKE CITY — Following a night of protest and unrest in Salt Lake City and across the country, Gail Miller, owner of the Utah Jazz and the Larry H. Miller Group of Companies, issued a statement Sunday.
“Hearts across America, and in Utah, are hurting following events of racism, discrimination and injustice sparked by the recent and senseless death of George Floyd,” Miller said in a written statement. “As I stated on the basketball court of Vivint Smart Home Arena last year, ‘We believe in treating all people with courtesy and respect as human beings ... no one wins when respect goes away.’ It is my sincerest hope that we will all work together, peacefully and respectfully, to put an end to the mistreatment of any human being.
“Our homes, neighborhoods, institutions and businesses are enriched and strengthened when we invite, embrace and celebrate our rich diversity. We must hold ourselves and those around us accountable and to the highest standards of decency. We must approach each other with empathy and kindness as we continue to build collaboration and, more importantly, inclusivity and trust.”
In March 2019, then-Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook and spectator Shane Keisel were involved in a heated verbal exchange at Vivint Arena that Westbrook said began with racially charged comments from the Keisel.
Later that week, Miller took center court and spoke to the fans addressing the situation.
“This should never happen,” Miller said. “We are not a racist community. We believe in treating people with courtesy and respect as human beings.”
Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell backed the Jazz owner and her willingness to step out in front and speak up.
“In this business, to have your owner to be so forward and so out there to back us the way she did, and to back Russell, that’s amazing,” Mitchell said. “That’s the incredible thing about the NBA, as we all know all sports aren’t like that.”
Miller’s statement Sunday comes after 46 were arrested following Saturday’s protests.
Steve Starks, CEO of the Larry H. Miller Group of Companies, issued his own statement on Saturday in a series of tweets, eventually imploring his followers to not only speak up, but to also have conversations within their own homes and communities.
“I have felt deep sorrow about the death of George Floyd and the accompanying hurt it has caused in our communities and country,” Starks wrote on Twitter. “Unfortunately, this isn’t an isolated incident and people are tired and angry.”
Like you, I have felt deep sorrow about the death of George Floyd and the accompanying hurt it has caused in our communities and country. Unfortunately, this isn’t an isolated incident and people are tired and angry.— Steve Starks (@StevenStarks) May 30, 2020
“May we be united and rise above injustice, division, and hate of any kind. And may we expect our leaders to appeal to the best within us, promote peace, and ensure the fair and equitable distribution of law and justice. And tweets are fine but I encourage you to also have real conversations in your homes, families, churches and places of work. Doing so has blessed my life this week even as I search for additional ways to help.”