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Sky file complaint with WNBA after official uses racist term toward coach James Wade

Diamond DeShields and other players heard the official use the term “boy,” and Wade saw the exchange take place on the court.

The Sky and coach/GM James Wade filed a complaint with the league after a white official used a racially derogatory term during Tuesday’s game.
The Sky coach/GM James Wade filed a complaint Wednesday morning with the WNBA office after a white official referred to him in a derogatory manner using the racist term “boy” during Tuesday night’s game at Wintrust Arena.
Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

Sky general manager and coach James Wade filed an official complaint Wednesday with the WNBA after an official referred to him in a derogatory manner, using the racist term “boy” during the game Tuesday at Wintrust Arena.

“I’m a grown man. I have a family and a team, and I have a responsibility,” Wade said after the game. “When someone tells one of my players, ‘Hey, explain to your boy,’ I take that personal.

“That’s what I’ve been dealing with. That’s how people see me.”

A Sky spokesperson said that Wade was interviewed by NBA security, but the WNBA has yet to comment.

Wade said he always encourages his players to play through bad officiating and to be professional even if others are not. Diamond DeShields and other players heard the official make the remark, and Wade saw the exchange take place on the court.

The team said it hopes the league takes swift action adheres to a zero-tolerance policy for racism.

Tuesday marked a year since George Floyd was murdered by police in Minneapolis, sparking movements across the globe that called for unity, an end to police brutality and a dismantling of the systems that perpetuate racism.

After their game against the Dream, players and Wade reflected on the fact that much is still the same and that when they take off their uniforms, they are Black in America.

“It’s tough,” Wade said. “This basketball thing is something that can distract you from it because you have a passion for it, but you never lose sight of who you are. At the end of the day when I leave the gym, I am who I am, and that’s the way it is.”

The loss was the Sky’s second straight, and it came in large part because of the Dream’s aggressive defense, which kept the Sky out of sync. Wade said the Dream were allowed to be aggressive.

The three officials called 43 total fouls, 22 on the Sky.

Wade said it was challenging for his team to be aggressive defensively because play repeatedly was halted by the officiating, which he described as shameful and disgraceful.

“I don’t know how good of a coach I can be, or how effective I can be, if you look at the game and see how it is,” Wade said. “I’m not going to try and victimize anything, but I take it personal. It’s personal. We don’t have any margin for error.”

Of the league’s 12 head coaches, only three are Black: Wade, the Los Angeles Sparks’ Derek Fisher and the Dallas Wings’ Vickie Johnson.

There are just four women head coaches: Johnson, the Indiana Fever’s Marianne Stanley, the Phoenix Mercury’s Sandy Brondello and the Minnesota Lynx’s Cheryl Reeve.

The Sky’s next game is against the Sparks at 7 p.m. Friday at Wintrust Arena. Wade said he doesn’t have a specific date for when he expects Candace Parker to return from an ankle injury. Parker, who played with the Sparks for 13 seasons, has another chance to face her former team Sunday.