The Sacramento Kings removed free T-shirts with monkeys on them that were draped over seats before Monday’s game due to complaints about racial insensitivity on the first day of Black History Month.
The black shirts, featuring a large purple monkey in the center, were giveaways to celebrate the Lunar New Year and the Chinese Year of the Monkey, the Sacramento Bee reports. The California basketball team had them pulled after Kings star DeMarcus Cousins and others objected, former NBA player Marques Johnson said.
“DeMarcus voices his displeasure and to the Kings credit they pull the Monkey T Shirts,” Johnson, who is now a Milwaukee TV analyst, wrote on Twitter. “Good move Kings. Year of Monkey Tees on 1st day of Black History Month not a good look. Thanks DeMarcus,” he wrote in another tweet.
Critics said the timing of the T-shirts was off since Lunar New Year begins Feb. 8. Kings president Chris Granger told the Sacramento Bee the shirts were removed before fans arrived for the game against the Milwaukee Bucks.
“We all need a lesson in sensitivity,” Granger said. “In an effort to celebrate Chinese New Year, we had some concerns about the T-shirt giveaway, so we pulled them all before the doors opened. Certainly we don’t want to offend anybody, and we acted as soon as we heard the concern.”