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NBA investigation doesn’t substantiate Elijah Millsap’s claim against Jazz executive Dennis Lindsey

Jazz executive Dennis Lindsey

SALT LAKE CITY, UT - JULY 08: Dennis Lindsey General Manager of the Utah Jazz speaks to the press about signing George Hill and Joe Johnson to the Utah Jazz at Zions Bank Basketball Center on July 08, 2016 in Salt Lake City, Utah. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2016 NBAE (Photo by Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images)

NBAE via Getty Images

Former Jazz player Elijah Millsap accused Jazz executive Dennis Lindsey of telling him, “If you say one more word, I’ll cut your Black ass and send you back to Louisiana.”

Lindsey denied it. Jazz coach Quin Snyder – who was in the 2015 exit meeting – said he didn’t hear that.

A joint NBA and Jazz investigation was “unable to establish” Lindsey said that.

Here’s the NBA release:

The National Basketball Association announced today the results of a joint investigation with independent, outside counsel to the Utah Jazz into an allegation made by former Jazz player Elijah Millsap on February 24, 2021 that team Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations Dennis Lindsey made an inappropriate statement six years ago during Millsap’s April 2015 exit interview.

The investigation was unable to establish that the alleged statement was made.

As part of the investigative process, all participants involved in the 2015 meeting were interviewed and given the opportunity to provide any relevant evidence, including both Millsap and Lindsey. The investigation also involved other parties who might have been in a position to corroborate the allegation, and the review of meeting notes of the exit interview and other pertinent information.

The Jazz released this statement:
As an organization, we take all matters of this nature seriously and have zero tolerance for discriminatory behavior of any kind. We appreciate the thorough process of the NBA’s investigation and thank all parties involved for their full cooperation. The league’s investigation was done in coordination with independent, outside counsel. We respect the league’s process and results announced earlier today. For more than 25 years, Dennis Lindsey has been a respected basketball executive around the NBA and a leading voice on social justice within our organization and community.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

This is an unsatisfactory outcome for everyone involved. Millsap doesn’t get the vindication he was seeking. Lindsey has his reputation stained without the ability to definitively disprove Millsap’s claim.

But – if you trust the outside investigation – it’s probably the only reasonable conclusion.

Unfortunately, there are just too many impediments to getting the true story.

For one, it happened six years ago. Memories fade. Unless the meeting was recorded, even detailed notes are imperfect. Does anyone believe the person taking notes would write verbatim, “If you say one more word, I’ll cut your Black ass and send you back to Louisiana” even if Lindsey said it?

Lindsey, Snyder and Justin Zanik still work for the Jazz. They share a certain professional bond. A player, especially a marginal one like Millsap, would fall well outside that bond.

Millsap is bitter because he believes the Jazz spoke poorly of him to other teams after his stint in Utah. Maybe they did. Maybe they didn’t. But Millsap is clearly still bothered.

We’re left with a he-said, he-said situation. Witnesses who seemingly would have heard Lindsey’s remark if he said it, said they didn’t hear it. It’s unreasonable to act further on Millsap’s accusation unless more evidence emerges.