NBA opens investigation into alleged racist comment by Utah Jazz VP Dennis Lindsey

League will interview all attendees at a 2015 exit interview with Elijah Millsap, and examine notes taken at meeting

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) Utah Jazz GM Dennis Lindsey speaks with the media after the introduction of players George Hill and Joe Johnson at the Jazz training facilities on Friday, July 8, 2016.

The NBA is opening an investigation into the alleged comments Jazz vice president of basketball operations Dennis Lindsey made during an exit interview with former Jazz guard Elijah Millsap in 2015.

Millsap, who spent two seasons with the team, tweeted on Wednesday alleging that Lindsey told Millsap that “if you say one more word, I’ll cut your Black a-- and send you back to Louisiana” during the player’s end of season meeting on April 16, 2015.

Lindsey categorically denied making the comment to the Salt Lake Tribune, while Jazz coach Quin Snyder — who was at the meeting — said he couldn’t recall the specific interaction, but that he “can’t fathom Dennis saying something like that.”

The Jazz released a statement on Thursday, saying that they would cooperate with the league’s investigation.

“The Jazz organization has zero tolerance for discriminatory behavior of any kind. We take these matters seriously. We have proactively engaged outside counsel to work in coordination with the NBA to thoroughly investigate this matter. We seek a comprehensive and unbiased review of the situation,” the statement read.

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that the league’s investigation will speak to the attendees of the meeting: Millsap, Lindsey, Snyder, and then-assistant general manager Justin Zanik. Wojnarowski said that Lindsey encouraged the league to review the matter.

Zanik also was “tasked with keeping detailed notes of the conversation,” notes that were then entered into a team database. The NBA will receive access to that database to view those notes, and will investigate if the notes have been altered since the date of the meeting.

Millsap is the younger brother of Paul Millsap, who spent seven seasons with the Jazz. The younger Millsap, a defensive-oriented guard, spent parts of two seasons with the Jazz. He was signed in January 2015, first to a pair of 10-day contracts, then to a longer-term contract. The exit interview came at the end of that first season, and Millsap came back the next year (2015-16), playing 8.7 minutes per game in 20 games before being cut in January 2016.

Exit interviews are held across the league in the days after the end of a team’s season. They’re an opportunity for players and team management to review the season that just wrapped up and look forward to future seasons, and give the two parties a chance to plan out offseason workouts and a plan for improvement.

Millsap explained on Twitter that he was sharing his story now because “Bigot behavior is still very well present in our Country and should be exposed and expunged.” He said he is “Controlling my narrative, and will teach my sons how to stand up and control their own. Inspired by the courageous souls who fight for racial equality and social justice daily.”


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