American Airlines Apologizes for Kicking 2 Black NBA Players, Assistant Coach Off Flight After Attendant Falsely Accused Them of Stealing Blankets

Marquis Teague (left) and Memphis Hustle teammate Trahson Burrell (right) were accused of stealing blankets from first class before being asked to deboard. An American Airlines spokesman said both players received apologies and were flown first class to their destination

American Airlines has apologized to two black minor league basketball players who were kicked off a plane in Dallas on Christmas Eve after a flight attendant accused them of stealing blankets.

Marquis Teague and Trahson Burrell – who both play for the NBA G League’s Memphis Hustle – boarded Flight 3756, operated by Envoy Air, at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport bound for Sioux Falls, South Dakota, according to American Airlines spokesman Joshua Freed.

As they made their way to their seats in coach, Teague and Burrell were each handed blankets by a pair of first-class passengers.

However, a black flight attendant accused them of stealing the blankets and forced them off the plane. Burrell allegedly shared some threatening words before deboarding, according to The Undefeated.

Freed says an airline manager apologized to the players and that they later flew first class to Sioux Falls along with an assistant coach. However, according to The Undefeated, the three missed the team’s holiday dinner that night.

American Airlines spokesman: ‘We apologize for what occurred on this flight. We take pride in bringing people together, and we know that on this flight we let some of our customers down. Our team at American, along with Envoy Air, is reviewing what happened and will be reaching out to [the two players and the assistant coach]
‘We apologize for what occurred on this flight,’ Freed told The Undefeated. ‘We take pride in bringing people together, and we know that on this flight we let some of our customers down. Our team at American, along with Envoy Air, is reviewing what happened and will be reaching out to [the two players and the assistant coach].’

Chief executive Doug Parker told employees last month that American Airlines will implement implicit-bias training.

Both Hustle head coach Glynn Cyprien and assistant coach Darnell Lazare took to Twitter to share their frustration after the incident.

‘American Airlines Needs Sensitivity Training to Attendants on flights dealing with Humans & Blankets!,’ wrote Cyprien.

Lazare tweeted: ‘It’s 2017 and a Flight attendant for @AmericanAir sees 2 young black athletes with blankets from first class, his 1st comment is “did you steal them” how about you teach people to get the facts first before jumping to conclusions’

Memphis Hustle head coach Glynn Cyprien reacted to the incident on Twitter
Memphis Hustle assistant coach Darnell Lazare suggested American Airlines’s decision to remove Teague and Burrell from the flight was racially motivated

This incident is not the first of its kind for American Airlines.

Previously the NAACP issued a national travel advisory in October, claiming American Airlines ‘could subject [travelers to] disrespectful, discriminatory or unsafe conditions.’

The airline claimed at the time it does ‘not tolerate discrimination of any kind,’ but the NAACP did cite several instances that suggest otherwise.

In October, Tamika Mallory, who co-chaired the Women’s March in Washington earlier this year, was removed from a flight from Miami to New York after a disagreement with a gate agent after a changed seating assignment, according to the New York Daily News.

After objecting to the manner in which she was treated by the gate agent, Mallory claims she was then scolded by the white pilot who overheard the previous conversation. She told the pilot that she planned to file a complaint, leading him to ask her if she was going to ‘behave,’ according to Mallory.

Memphis Hustle coach Glynn Cyprien tweeted that American Airlines needs ‘sensitivity training’

‘I didn’t say anything,’ she said. ‘I sat down. I did not say one word to anybody. The next thing I know, my name was called,’ she said.

When she walked up to the front of the plane, the pilot told police officers that she was to be removed.

The airline was actually sued by an NAACP state chapter president who flew American from Washington D.C. from Raleigh, North Carolina and claims he was forced to relinquish his purchased seat because he responded to discriminatory comments directed at him by two white passengers.

In another incident, a black woman was moved to coach after purchasing a first-class ticket for herself and her travelling companion – a white person who was allowed to remain in first class, according to the NAACP.

‘… we were disappointed to learn of a travel advisory issued by the NAACP regarding American Airlines,’ read a company statement. ‘The mission statement of the NAACP states that it “seeks to remove all barriers of racial discrimination.” That’s a mission that the people of American Airlines endorse and facilitate every day – we do not and will not tolerate discrimination of any kind. We have reached out to the NAACP and are eager to meet with them to listen to their issues and concerns.’

Burrell and Teague both played in Memphis’s Christmas Day game in Sioux Falls, scoring 14 and 11 points, respectively, while Burrell added 11 rebounds, seven assists and five steals in a 131-115 win Over the Skyforce.

The younger brother of Minnesota Timberwolves point guard Jeff Teague, Marquis was a first-round pick of the Chicago Bulls in 2012 before being traded to the Brookyn Nets in 2014.

The University of Kentucky product has since bounced around the NBA’s development league, now known as the G-League, as well as the Israeli league.

After two seasons at Memphis State, Burrell is now in his second NBA G League season.

.@marquisteague25 contributed 11 points and 3 assists during the Hustle’s 131-115 victory over Sioux Falls on Christmas Day.

— Memphis Hustle (@MemphisHustle) December 26, 2017

SOURCE: Daily Mail, Alex Raskin; The Associated Press