J.B. Bickerstaff defends Emoni Bates after ‘disgusting and vile’ things were said to him and his family

4 Min Read
Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Cleveland Cavaliers head coach J.B. Bickerstaff came to the defense of forward Emoni Bates after he was suspended for entering the spectator stands after the Cleveland Charge’s loss to the Birmingham Squadron on Jan. 20.

Bates and G Leaguer Gabe Osabuohien have both been suspended for two games without pay.

However, it appears that there were inappropriate things said to Bates and his family during the game, which may have prompted the Cavs forward’s reaction.

“We talked to Emoni and I want to be clear about the circumstances of that and I don’t think it’s been clear. It was an ugly incident from the fan standpoint,” Bickerstaff said on Monday.

“Emoni and Gabe , they draw the attention and I understand the league’s hard and fast rule on approaching the stands and that type of thing, but there’s also a line that needs to be drawn between how fans believe they can interact with players, how they can interact with players’ families and the things that were said to Emoni and his family.

“I let him know we’ve got his back, we’re still supporting him and as a league there needs to be more done to protect those guys. They should never have to go through what they went through and be called the names they were called.”

It’s unfortunate to hear that Bates had to experience this from fans at the game, and hopefully it is something that the NBA and G League will be able to handle. While players like Bates need to be kept in check, fans also need to be held to a standard of respect ot the athletes on the floor.

Bates played 38 minutes in the loss to the Squadron, recording 14 points, seven rebounds, seven assists and one steal while shooting 6-of-20 from the floor and 2-of-12 from beyond the arc.

So far for the Charge this season, Bates is averaging 24.6 points, 5.4 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 0.8 steals per game while shooting 41.7 percent from the field and 42.9 percent from deep.

The Cavs’ second-round pick in the 2023 NBA Draft won’t be able to add to that in the next two games, but it appears he has the support of Bickerstaff and the Cavs’ organization.

Bickerstaff said he understood the reaction from Bates while stating that fans said “disgusting and vile” things towards the young forward.

“I understand Emoni being upset and Gabe going to protect Emoni in that situation,” Bickerstaff explained. “I want to make it clear and maybe those guys won’t have an opportunity to speak on it, but what happened from the fan perspective was ugly and there’s no place in our game for the things that those fans were saying.

“It’s to a point where they are words that I won’t even repeat because that’s how disgusting and vile it was. I understand the league’s rule and where they stand, but I also understand a guy wanting to protect his mother and then a teammate wanting to protect him.”

This season, Bates has appeared in 10 games for the Cavs and is averaging 7.6 minutes per game. The young forward is putting up 1.8 points, 1.0 rebound and 0.6 assists per game while shooting 25.0 percent from 3-point range.

Hopefully, the incident that led to Bates’ suspension won’t hurt the youngster’s play on the floor when he’s able to return to action.

Share This Article
Peter is a graduate of Quinnipiac University where he covered the MAAC and college basketball for three years. He has worked for NBC Sports, the Connecticut Sun and the Meriden Record-Journal covering basketball and other major sports. Follow him on Twitter @peterdewey2.