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#pounditSunday, October 24, 2021

Donovan Mitchell responds to Utah company dumping Jazz suite over kneeling, BLM support

Donovan Mitchell

Donovan Mitchell responded on Thursday to a Utah company’s decision to cancel its suite at Jazz games.

Salt Lake County-based SME Steel Contractors sent a letter to Jazz owner Gail Miller on Sept. 9 announcing its decision to cancel its suite at Vivint Smart Home Arena. The company began licensing a suite annually since 1992 and estimates it has spent $6 million on suites over the years.

The company is upset with the way the NBA, its teams, and its players have politicized the sport. They took issue with players and coaches kneeling during the national anthem, as well as messages around courts supporting the Black Lives Matter political organization.

“The recent actions of the NBA — including the owners, coaches and players of the Utah Jazz — have converted a beloved entertainment venue into a forum for dissemination of political propaganda which is divisive and completely out of step with our company and its values,” they said in their letter.

The company acknowledges that teams and players are free to express their views, but says there may be consequences, such as the company’s response.

“They cannot, however, force paying customers, to be subjected to their ostentatious acts of disrespect for our country and its values, without any consequences.”

The company said it would not keep its suite until Black Lives Matter logos are removed from the arena and kneeling during the national anthem is stopped.

Mitchell, who is the team’s young, star player, responded on Twitter Thursday. He said the company had the right to cancel its suite, while he and his fellow players have the right to kneel for the anthem.

Mitchell is incorrect about having a constitutionally-protected right to kneel in the workplace. The U.S. Constitution’s free speech rights do not apply to workers in the workplace, though the NBA is allowing (and arguably encouraging) him and other players to do so.

Mitchell was one of the stars of the bubble even though the Jazz lost in the first round of the playoffs to the Denver Nuggets. The 24-year-old averaged a career-high 24 points per game this season and made his first All-Star team.

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