The Perth Wildcats have condemned comments made by a rival executive, regarding the jersey their team wore during the NBL’s Indigenous Round.
The comments were made by Sydney Kings owner and chairman, Paul Smith, who accused the Wildcats of using the design of the jersey and idea of Indigenous engagement as a “guise” to promote the franchise’s success.
“Mmmmm – as opposed to using the guise of indiginous cultural engagement and reconciliation to promote 9 championships, 33 finals appearances and a heavy travel schedule on a singlet,” Smith posted on Twitter on Saturday evening, replying to a video of Kings head coach, Will Weaver, speaking about the league’s Indigenous Round.
The typo in the above quote is Smith’s.
Smith was called out by NBL fans for his initial statement and subsequent replies doubling down, before the Wildcats released a statement on Sunday night, calling the comments “appalling” and “ignorant”.
“The comments are both highly offensive to the Perth Wildcats and disrespectful to leading Australian Indigenous Statesperson, Dr Richard Walley OAM – who developed the cultural narrative and designed the uniform,” the Wildcats’ statement said.
“The Wildcats believe the comments have unfortunately tainted the inaugural NBL Indigenous Round, in what has otherwise been a significant step forward in the journey of reconciliation for clubs and fans.”
The NBL is investigating the matter, a league spokesman told foxsports.com.au.
Dr Richard Walley OAM is a leading Aboriginal performer and musician, and worked with the Wildcats to design the jersey.
The design, according to the Wildcats, is “a mandala telling the story of the club’s history and success,” with references to the team’s nine titles and 33 playoff appearances.
“(Inaugural Wildcats captain) Mike (Ellis) said, we have nine championships and we do a lot of travelling, and that was the instigator of the whole process. And we’ve been in 33 finals. That triggered it,” Dr Walley said at the time of the jersey’s launch.
“So the nine titles we’ve won were created into nine circles, with one in the centre. The 33 final appearances are each orange sector within the design. We’ve also paid respect to the original colours of the old whites, golds and blacks.”
Smith’s comments about the jersey design came after the Kings’ 110-100 loss to the Wildcats.
He’s not the first owner of an NBL team to be investigated by the league, with the New Zealand Breakers’ Matt Walsh suspended earlier in the season for a verbal altercation with NBL Commissioner, Jeremy Loeliger.
The Kings have been reached for comment.
Olgun Uluc is the Senior Basketball Reporter for Fox Sports Australia. Twitter: @OlgunUluc
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