WNBA has concluded its investigation into official’s ‘disrespectful’ comments toward James Wade

Sky coach and general manager James Wade said he has never had any negative interactions with the official before this exchange and has not spoken to him since.

SHARE WNBA has concluded its investigation into official’s ‘disrespectful’ comments toward James Wade

Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

Two weeks after a WNBA game official allegedly used disrespectful language to refer to Sky coach and general manager James Wade, he was back at work Tuesday following an 11-day hiatus. 

The official, whose name is not being publicly disclosed, was scheduled to work the game between the Wings and Mercury in Phoenix. It’s unclear whether his break was a suspension.

“We generally do not comment on discipline around officiating,” said a league spokesperson, who confirmed the WNBA had completed an investigation into the incident, which occurred during the Sky’s loss to the Dream at Wintrust Arena on May 25. 

In a video the Sky sent to the league, the official can be seen walking up to Sky guard Diamond DeShields after a timeout and saying something — alleged to be “Hey, explain to your boy” — before quickly walking away.

Other Sky players say they heard the remark, and Wade can be seen monitoring the situation from the bench. 

“Boy” has historically been used as a demeaning term toward Black men. A day after the incident, Wade — who said he has not spoken with the official — said he didn’t know if there was racist intent but called the comment disrespectful and said it has no place in the league. He confirmed the league was investigating, and he and DeShields were interviewed by league security. 

In filing a complaint, the Sky said they hoped the WNBA would take swift action and adhere to a zero-tolerance policy for racism. Since then, Wade said he has spoken with league officials and has moved on.

“The league told me they were handling the situation,” he said. “I trust them. I feel like they have everyone’s best interest at heart. I don’t know exactly what happened, but I trust them.”

The Sky are on a seven-game losing skid — in large part because of a 38.3% field-goal percentage — as they prepare to host the Fever on Wednesday night. Wade said the team has focused on simplifying the offense to allow for more movement and spacing in the halfcourt. 

Two-time WNBA MVP Candace Parker is expected to make her home debut for the Sky after a sprained ankle sidelined her for eight games. She participated in her first full practice Tuesday; team trainers will see how her ankle responds before her status is officially determined. 

“There’s going to be a lot of timing and rhythm things that will take some time,” Wade said. “But she’s Candace Parker.”

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