The NBL has launched an investigation in the aftermath of Sunday’s bitter Throwdown between United and the Phoenix.
The NBL has launched an investigation after South East Melbourne Phoenix and Melbourne United each lodged a complaint with the league about “off-court conduct” in Sunday’s clash between the bitter rivals.
Concerns arose after United’s court announcer Wayne Peterson directed what some fans interpreted as a racially insensitive comment at Chinese player Zhou Qi during the third quarter of the Phoenix’s 94-86 win.
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The comment came after Qi missed two free-throw attempts, gifting each member of the John Cain Arena crowd a Hungry Jack’s burger as part of a promotional deal with the NBL’s primary sponsor.
In broadcast footage of the game, Peterson, who the NBL has previously fined and suspended for comments made on the mic, said non-native English-speaker Qi “probably doesn’t understand” why the home crowd cheered when he missed the shots.
Peterson’s comment came under immediate scrutiny.
“Come on, Wayne,” said ESPN commentator and Melbourne Tigers legend Lanard Copeland.
The Phoenix confirmed to News Corp that a complaint had been lodged with the NBL.
Peterson was alleged to have targeted Phoenix players off-mic throughout Throwdown XIII but South East Melbourne would not confirm reports that one of the club’s stars, Devin Thomas, fired a comment back at him.
Melbourne United did not confirm whether its complaint related to Thomas but said it was assisting the NBL in its investigations and looking into the Phoenix’s allegations internally.
“We as a club strive to maintain and uphold a culture of inclusiveness and diversity. We will make a statement when appropriate but shall have no further comment until then,” a spokesman for United said.
United screens an anti-racism video before each of its home games and last season played its inaugural ‘Multicultural Game’, designed to celebrate the “many cultures and backgrounds within our basketball club”.
The NBL will release further comment on the complaints once its investigations have been finalised.
Throwdown XIII was the most acrimonious game of the NBL season to date.
Mason Peatling’s pre-match prediction that the encounter would be a physical one came true – the United big man knocked Phoenix star Mitch Creek to the floor as he celebrated a dunk and a scuffle ensued.
After the melee subsided, Creek received a technical foul for taunting and Peatling was ejected from the contest.
The NBL’s Game Review Panel is investigating the scuffle and will release its findings in the coming days.
Creek conceded his flamboyant celebration “may not have been the most professional” but insisted that Peatling was in the wrong.
“If you take the basketball away from it, it was an inappropriate play and something we won’t stand for as a club,” he told SEN.