I was not present during the situation at hand. Speaking to the players no one heard Royce make a homophobic slur towards any fan. There was some dialogue the statements made from Royce were not derogatory unlike the fans statements. He did say a few things the initial statement was he "flew to Newfoundland on a plane" in response to an attempt to insult his issues with flying. Ryan who was trying to defuse the situation spoke to fans to stop and called for security to come closer to the area through Mark. The players then moved closer to the coaches.
Before coming to the game, the expectation was that no one would be sitting in the row behind our bench. I clearly discussed with Edge management after the last game here, because of a situation that occurred. I had spoken to Trevor at that time that we did not want to have any row of fans behind our bench. He agreed. So when coming to the game and seeing the row behind our bench I was surprised. I spoke to Mark Frijia about it and he had already spoken to Trevor who confirmed that security would be present throughout the game. This was not the case and not only was it not the case but when the security came over she confirmed that fans can say anything they want to the players. This shows that there was very little training if any to address our needs.
I would never have agreed to that situation. The fans at Mile 1 are very verbally aggressive. If an usher or security were where we were told they would be. This situation would have been handled a lot better.
I would like to move on from this as soon as possible because this is a distraction that could have definitely been avoided.
Head Coach London Lightning
I am Mark Frijia the Assistant General Manager of the London Lightning and this is my statement in regards to the incident at last nights game (game 3) when the Lightning played the edge April 21st, 2018.
Even before the game started Coach Vassell was concerned about fan interaction with our players because last time we were in St. John's our players were harassed for most of the game. I talked to Trevor Murphy of the Edge and he assured me there would be security on both ends of our bench and if we ever had a problem that we could talk to the security and they would take care of it. Most of the game went by without any interaction between our players bench and the edge fans. But at one point late in the game I was approached by Ryan Anderson who informed me that the fans behind the bench were getting pretty aggressive with the insults. I went to the closest security guard who was behind the media table and I asked if she could tell the fans to stop interacting with the players. Once she went down and talked to the fans she then stood by them to make sure nothing else was said.
In my opinion having home town fans within arm's reach of the visiting players should not be allowed to occur. Its very different having some fan yell obscenities at you from 50 feet away but to basically have them in your face is not fair to the players or to the fans. It puts them in a very awkward position.
In regards to any type of language that was used by the Lighting players I did not hear anything like the type of language that was described in the email. Our players were aware of the situation last time we were here and they knew not to interact with fans. The only comments I heard were to each other when the game was wrapping up because they were happy about winning the game.
Dear NBL Canada,
I unequivocally deny any allegations of homophobic slurs during our last game. After being harassed by the fans sitting behind our bench a number of times I turned to them and said "I'm the MVP". I also said "I got here this morning on a plane, and that's game." This comment was only in response to a number of DISABILITY SLURS (Any comments that condemn or make fun of mental health conditions. All mental health conditions fall safely under federal disability considerations). These slurs were yelled from a number of fans for a continual period during the game, including but not exclusively the fans closest to our bench. This type of heckling from fans is not acceptable. There are no by-laws attached to any NBL rulebook that contractually binds players to have to tolerate harassment from fans, especially those closest to the bench. As a player I see it as a safety issue that inebriated fans are allowed to be that close to the opposing bench at all. If this continues to be the case, I am asking that a rule of no direct dialogue between court-side fans and opposing players be administered. The security needs to stay in constant hearing range to monitor any type of inciting verbal exchanges.
Royce A. White
During the game, the Lightning bench were being harassed beyond what is normal. I was subbed out of the game. Came over to get some water. There was a couple right behind our bench yelling at us, I looked around for security after being told that they would be present for the entire game, they were not! The fans words went too far so I came over to try to defuse it as fast as possible by calling over security and moving the players. There was no security in sight.
I asked them to stop speaking to us. They continued. I asked Mark Frijia to get the security because of these fans verbal abuse. He did. And when security came over I showed security who the couple was and some of the things they were saying. I asked her to please get control of the situation because we already had a situation going on currently with one of our players, that we don't need anything else on top of that. She said that the fans can say what they want to. I said no they cannot and still moved the players closer to coach.
Once the security was there the situation had ended.
From the moment the game started the fans from behind us was intentionally trying to bother Royce personally. I could tell they were attacking him because they never said a word to me or Garrett Williamson and we sat right on the end of the bench moments before Royce got subbed out of the game. Once Royce came onto the bench I could hear a guy say, "how did your scary ass get here?" Royce responded, "on the plane" so everyone kind of laughed. I asked Royce not to pay them any attention because I could tell they were trying to push button they figured would bother him. Then Ryan Anderson asked our GM Mark Frijia to get the security guard to move the fan, and he also asked us to sit closer to the coaches end of the bench so we could focus on the game. Then the security stated that the fans can say what they wanted and just stood between our bench and the fans.
There was a couple behind our bench who was continuously heckling Royce. A lady from behind us made a statement to Royce.
The fan said "How the f**k did your scary ass get here"
Royce responded "On a plane"
The team laughed after that then they started going back and forth. But they (the fans) were talking the whole night. We had no security.
It took a while for an usher to come over. The players by that time all sat closer to the coaches.