Perth Wildcats and Nate Jawai won’t pursue further action after the centre was allegedly racially abused during Wednesday night’s NBL game against the NZ Breakers.
The Wildcats say Jawai was taunted while being subbed out of the game in Auckland.
“As this was an isolated incident limited to one person, Nate and the club have decided to move on,” the Wildcats said in a statement on Thursday.
Jawai, who is of Torres Strait Islands descent, was abused when returning the bench during the Breakers’ 99-78 win at the North Shore Events Centre.
Wildcats coach Trevor Gleeson said the incident happened when Jawai walked off the court after picking up a foul, prompting Perth to call for extra security around their bench.
“When Nate came off there was some racial (comments), and we just wanted some extra security when he was on the bench,” Gleeson told reporters post-match.
“… It wasn’t pretty.”
Gleeson suggested the crowd wanted to incite a reaction from Jawai, who was the first indigenous Australian to play in the NBA.
But Gleeson’s comments surprised the Breakers, whose chief executive Richard Clarke earlier Thursday said his club was taking the allegations seriously.
The Breakers didn’t receive an official complaint from either the Wildcats or the NBL but started their own investigation.
Clarke confirmed there were comments directed at Australian international Jawai but witnesses contacted in the season member’s section said none of them were racist.
“We have had conversations with members who have seats in that area and their comments have been consistent in that while there was an exchange between fans and Jawai they are clear in their assertions that this exchange did not contain any racial abuse,” Clarke said in a statement.
He added that the game’s referees coach Ken Coulson was also sitting behind the visitors’ bench and heard nothing untoward.
“As a club we don’t condone or tolerate abuse in any form, and we would be both surprised and disappointed if our fans have behaved in this manner,” Clarke said.