NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - An ESPN reporter apologized after claiming racial bias was behind fans' negative reaction toward former Pelican Anthony Davis’s move to Los Angeles.
Davis and the L.A. Lakers return Wednesday night to take on the Pelicans after Davis’s stormy departure last season.
For 6 years, Davis tried to bring an NBA championship to New Orleans.
"My time here was great, they are passionate about their team, I understand it," said Davis.
Davis is back in New Orleans this time as a member of the division-leading Lakers after a stormy departure from the Pels, where he sat out much of last season.
“To demand a trade, then leak it in the media did not sit well with New Orleans, it’s not that Davis wanted to move on it was the way it was handled,” said Jeff Duncan for Fox 8 sports, and ‘The Athletic.’
Fans have been angry, but comments made by ESPN reporter Ramona Shelburne may have added fuel. On LA radio this week she said, 'I believe there's a racial component to all this...that a black agent, telling, not asking, a team, they should trade him, did not go over well, especially in the south.'
Davis rejected that notion.
Fox 8 asked Davis, "If you get booed tonight, do you think it has anything to do with racism toward your agent?”
Davis responded," No...no...not at all," and fans agree.
“If I’m booing him for any reason tonight, it’s because he was going to sit out the rest of the season and sign with the Lakers, and is back tonight,” said NBA fan Alex Maher.
“Fans were going to boo him regardless, New Orleanians are provincial, and defensive about anyone who doesn’t love New Orleans,” said Duncan.
The trade could have been handled better, but it’s all in the past, with the stage set for a big western division showdown, Davis said.
ESPN reporter Ramona Shelburne issued a statement saying:
“Since my appearance on LA radio Tuesday, I’ve spoken to many people and now realize that I inappropriately oversimplified a very complicated and emotional situation. I sincerely apologize for that mistake and to the city of New Orleans.”
The Lakers lead the western division with 15 wins and two losses. The pelicans are lagging behind with a six and 11 record. The two teams square off at 8:30 p.m. today in the arena.