If you were at Sleep Train Arena in Sacramento, Calif, about 90 minutes before tipoff Monday night, you would have thought the Kings were handling major laundry duty.
Before fans entered for the game against the Milwaukee Bucks, T-shirts that were placed on every seat to celebrate the Lunar New Year were being collected and put in large piles. The shirts had a monkey on the front because this is the year of the monkey.
The shirts became an issue because they were to be distributed on the first day of Black History Month, when NBA players and coaches wear commemorative shirts.
“We all need a lesson in sensitivity,” Kings president Chris Granger said. “In an effort to celebrate Chinese New Year, we had some concerns about the T-shirt giveaway, so we pulled them all before the doors opened. Certainly we don’t want to offend anybody, and we acted as soon as we heard the concern.”
Former University of Kentucky star DeMarcus Cousins was one of the first people to raise concern with team officials, and soon thereafter, the shirts were collected.
Former NBA player and current Milwaukee TV analyst Marques Johnson applauded Cousins for speaking up and the Kings for removing the shirts.
“Good move Kings,” Johnson tweeted. “Year of Monkey Tees on 1st day of Black History Month not a good look. Thanks DeMarcus.”