Mavericks guard Luka Doncic and Clippers center Montrezl Harrell got into a verbal sparring match early in the game, and Harrell appeared to call Doncic a “b---- a-- white boy” after scoring a bucket. The comment drew extra attention considering the emphasis on race relations inside the NBA bubble.
"B!tch a$$ white boy”— NBA Central (@TheNBACentral) August 22, 2020
- Montrezl Harrell to Luka Doncic pic.twitter.com/tlzxIFOerz
The interaction became a talking point on social media and in NBA circles during the Saturday off day.
Former NBA player and ESPN analyst Jay Williams criticized Harrell on Twitter.
“I can only imagine if Luka Doncic had said something like that to [Harrell] and it got caught on tape,” Williams said. “I can only imagine, during Black Lives Matter, how much of a big deal that would have been considering today’s climate and state. It would have been a massive story. Luka would have lost all credibility in this space.”
The rivals appeared to settle things on Sunday before tip-off of Game 4. Doncic seems fine.
Doncic, Harrell on good terms
Harrell and Doncic met and embraced at midcourt before the game, and Harrell shared some words with the Mavericks star. It’s not clear exactly what Harrell said, but the two left the interaction clearly on good terms.
Luka and Montrezl talk it out before the game pic.twitter.com/9XShWD9Wmw— Leigh Ellis (@LeighEllis) August 23, 2020
Rivers addressed incident with Harrell
Clippers coach Doc Rivers spoke about the incident with Sports Illustrated’s Chris Mannix prior to tip on Sunday. He said that the two had talked things out and that Doncic was surprised that Harrell even felt the need to address the issue.
“They squashed it,” Rivers said. “Luka, I guess, was shocked that he needed to reach out.”
Rivers also said that he warned Harrell about the need to be cognizant of his words even if he intended the comment as simply part of normal trash talk on the court.
“You just have to be careful,” Rivers said. “They both were talking. I don’t think Luka was saying anything racial, but he was swearing. So they both were doing it. It’s an emotional game. It’s a playground game out there in the playoffs.
“I said to him, ‘Hey, I don’t think you meant anything racially by it.’ He said ‘white boy,’ but I don’t think there was anything racial intended. But we are in a very heightened climate and you have to be careful.
“Trez was the first one to say that. He said, ‘I didn’t mean that racially.’ And I said it doesn’t matter. It’s what’s perceived. ... make sure you do the right thing.”
Harrell tweeted after the game that he cleared the air with Doncic and did so without any body speaking to him about it.
If gone get the story get it right all I ask, no one spoke wit me to do anything I approach him and cleared the air from all the outside nonsense that was being said. Nothing but respect for Luka he understood the heat of the battle and he said it didn’t bother him only RESPECT https://t.co/MOKlkT3CAH— Montrezl Harrell (@MONSTATREZZ) August 23, 2020
Doncic: ‘No worries’
Doncic told reporters after the game that he’s not worried about the incident.
“No worries,” Doncic said. “There’s a lot of emotions on the court, especially this is playoffs. Sometimes you say things you don’t want to say. He apologized. I respect that, so no problems.”
The Mavericks went on to win Sunday’s game to tie the series at 2-2 behind a 43-point triple-double from Doncic that included hitting the game-winning 3-pointer at the buzzer in overtime.
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