Two NBA G-League players were kicked off an American Airlines flight after they were falsely accused of stealing blankets from first class on Christmas Eve, The Guardian reports.
American Airlines issued an apology after guard Marquis Teague and forward Trahson Burrell, who play for the Memphis Grizzlies’ G-League affiliate Memphis Hustle, were wrongly booted from the flight to Sioux Falls, South Dakota from Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport.
Two first-class passengers gave the two players their blankets as they headed to their seats in coach. A flight attendant, who is also black, accused them of stealing the blankets and kicked them off the flight.
According to The Undefeated, the flight attendant “said he wouldn’t fly unless Teague and Burrell were off the plane after Burrell offered some threatening words. To keep the flight from being delayed, Teague and Burrell were asked to get off the plane.”
American Airlines apologized and flew the players and an assistant coach to Sioux Falls on a later flight, but they missed the team’s holiday dinner.
“We apologize for what occurred on this flight,” American Airlines spokesman Joshua Freed told The Undefeated. “We take pride in bringing people together, and we know that on this flight we let some of our customers down. Our team at American, along with Envoy Air, is reviewing what happened and will be reaching out to [the two players and the assistant coach].”
The team’s coaching staff was furious at how the airline handled the situation.
“American Airlines needs sensitivity training [for] attendants on flights dealing with humans and blankets,” Hustle head coach Glynn Cyprien wrote on Twitter.
American Airlines Needs Sensitivity Training to Attendants on flights dealing with Humans & Blankets! 👎🏾✈️🤷🏾♂️
— Glynn Cyprien (@CoachCyprien) December 24, 2017
“It’s 2017 and a flight attendant sees two young black athletes with blankets from first class,” added assistant coach Darnell Lazare. “His first comments is ‘did you steal them.’ How about you teach people the facts first before jumping to conclusions. #beingblackinamerican.”
It’s 2017 and a Flight attendant for @AmericanAir sees 2 young black athletes with blankets from first class, his 1st comment is “did you steal them” how about you teach people to get the facts first before jumping to conclusions. 🤔#beingblackinamerican
— Darnell Lazare (@Dhouse35) December 24, 2017
“We are obviously disappointed the incident occurred and the way American Airlines chose to handle the situation,” Cyprien said before the Hustle’s win over Sioux Falls Monday. “Today our focus is on the players affected and our Christmas Day game. I am honored to stand by my players and compete on this special day.”
Teague, the brother of Minnesota Timberwolves star guard Jeff Teague, was drafted in the first round of the 2012 NBA draft by the Chicago Bulls after playing a season in Kentucky.
Burrell played at the University of Memphis for two years before getting signed to the G-League.