Elijah Millsap, former Utah Jazz player, recently came forward with racial allegations against Dennis Lindsey, the Executive Vice President of the Utah Jazz, who was the team’s general manager at the time of the accusation. The derogatory remarks were made during an exit interview during the 2015 season. The NBA investigated the accusations and found them to be unfounded due to lack of evidence.
Millsap went in to his end of the season meeting with high hopes, expecting words reflecting his accomplishments of the year. However the comments made by Lindsey did not reflect his hard work. In defense, Millsap recalls mentioning his achievements that season. Millsap claims that Lindsey then told him, “If you say one more word, I'll cut your Black ass and send you back to Louisiana.”
The Rematch with Etan Thomas had the opportunity to have the first sit down with Millsap regarding the events that took place during the 2015 meeting. Although the alleged incident was over 5 years ago Millsap believes that it was important for him to come forward about what happened. Millsap says that he has struggled with the events that occurred for years and felt that at the time he wasn’t strong enough to defend himself against Lindsey’s harsh words because he was young and new to the league.
“He probably felt that I was coming out of my position as a player and he wanted to put me back in my place. What he said was wrong. It was racially insensitive,” tells Millsap to The Rematch.
The NBA investigated the allegations. Being that nothing was recorded or documented, after speaking to the parties present at the meeting they found the allegations to be unfounded. Aside from Millsap and Lindsey, Utah Jazz coach, Quin Snyder, and Justin Zanik, who is now the general manager, were also present at the meeting. Millsap says that Lindsey was loud and authoritative in his tone and that there was no way others in the room didn’t hear his remarks.
However Snyder stated, “I haven't heard anything remotely close to that and I know him and his character. And I also think that if something like that were ever said, I'm sensitive to those issues and I would remember it."
By coming forward Millsap says he had no expectations, but that he felt the time was right, especially given the social and racial climate of today’s world. “I had no expectations. This was about conquering my demons and fighting for my inner child and I did that. In the moment it’s tough to defend yourself because you already know what you’re going against, there’s situations like Kaepernick. You know what could happen,” says Millsap.
As the media often does, The Salt Lake City Tribune ran a column written by a sports colomunist that is host on a radio station owned by the Utah Jazz, which uplifted the accused and questioned the character of the accuser. They also did not reach out to Millsap for comments, and released a very one-sided story painting Lindsey to be a pioneer in social justice. Many other similar stories are circulating the internet, questioning Millsap’s integrity on the matter.
Millsap believes that if Lindsey would have admitted to the accusations and apologized it would have created a space for other white leaders to do the same, thus promoting change. “We need more white people in positions of leadership to stand up and admit their wrongs,” says Millsap.
Millsap is currently working with the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA), to create a system where exit interviews and other interactions between players and the league are better documented, or have equal representation on both sides present in order to prevent it from being one person’s word against another in the future.