Real Salt Lake owner Dell Loy Hansen stirred up controversy Thursday, with comments on the radio the morning after his team joined national sports boycotts Wednesday over a police shooting in Wisconsin. In response, NBA star Donovan Mitchell told him to "sell the team" and said he stands with RSL players.
"It’s a moment of sadness," Hansen told the Radio From Hell team, on X96 that he owns. "It’s like somebody stabbed you and you’re trying to figure out a way to pull the knife out and move forward. That’s what it feels like. The disrespect is profound to me personally."
NBA player Donovan Mitchell was among those critical of Hansen's comments that the boycott was a slap in the face to the community, to the team and to him. Jazz players Mitchell and Jordan Clarkson reacted to Hansen quotes on Twitter. Mitchell reacted to one quote in particular where Hansen said:
It’s taken a lot of wind out of my sails, what effort I want to put into recruiting players and building a great team. It just seems that’s not a very good path to take.
"WOW ... if it's taken "the wind" out then sell the team... I stand with @realsaltlake players 100" Mitchell tweeted.
"WOW!!" Clarkson added in a retweet.
The NBA postponed three playoff games in Orlando, Florida Wednesday after the Milwaukee Bucks didn't want to play with unrest in the team's home state. All NBA teams are in Florida to play inside what the league hopes is a coronavirus-safe bubble with no fans. Reports indicate players voted to resume the playoffs but not to play Thursday's games, that would have included the Utah Jazz trying to eliminate the Denver Nuggets.
Hansen said the organization worked hard to prepare for the game and knew that the game being cancelled was a blow to fans, including some who had travelled long distances to attend that game that was handled with extra precaution because of the global COVID-19 pandemic. Hansen said he supports an inclusive and "fairly liberal agenda" but said the loss of the game would cost people in the Real Salt Lake organization jobs.
"Because maybe you are so accommodating or you are caring that you can be easily slapped. I take it as a profound slap at our community's value structure of trying to build an organization that develops you, supports the community through our foundations, that reaches to employ 250 people here and then when it says well, there's another issue in society why don't we punish you. While I don't know that is the direct intention, that's the result that a lot of people will be punished," Hansen said.
X96's four hour video of their Thursday show was removed from YouTube.
The owner did offer an apology to fans who were disappointed not to attend the game. He said the organization represents inclusion and planed to have the team kneel during the anthem, a move he knew would be controversial with fans. He said as many as 300 ticket holders had threatened to cancel.
"To be who Real is, we have to be inclusive," Hansen said. "We don’t think Real should be the battleground. We think we should be the place where people quietly observe respect and understand our differences. For them to take that slap at the organization with that attitude toward the players, toward that respect is profoundly disappointing."
Hansen is the founder and CEO of the Wasatch Group that owns Broadway Media and the X96 radio station as well as the RSL flagship radio station ESPN 700, among others. A full transcript of the radio interview is available at RSLSoapBox.com and was available on YouTube as a portion of the four-hour Thursday morning radio program. It has since been removed.