By Brian Liou
Sacramento Kings point guard Jason Williams gestures during a game against the Phoenix Suns Wednesday, March 7. Photo by Associated Press.
Michael Ching waited the entire game for someone in the Warriors organization to come down to talk to him after the now infamous racial incident at a February Warriors/Kings game. He waited a total of 13 days after the incident before the NBA said enough was enough. And after all this time and waiting, Ching still has yet to receive what he had wanted all along an apology from Jason Williams.
On Feb. 28, Jason Williams, a point guard for the Sacramento Kings, shouted racial and anti-gay slurs to Ching, a Warriors season ticket holder, and to several other Asian Americans seated beside Ching during a Warriors game at the Oakland Arena. As recounted by a letter Ching sent to NBA commissioner David Stern, Williams retaliated against harmless heckling made by Ching and his party midway through the first half.
According to Ching, he told Williams, Get used to sitting on the bench.
Williams responded, Are you gay? Are you a fag?
An angered Williams then pelted Ching with expletives, at one point defaming him as a slant-eyed motherf****r.
Williams then pretended with his hands to shoot a machine gun toward Ching and the others, yelling, I will shoot all you Asian motherf****rs, while imitating machine gun sounds.
And it didnt stop there.
Yelling expletives with almost uncontrollable rage, Williams again directed his mock-machine gun at the crowd and cried out, Do you remember the Vietnam War, Ill kill yall just like that. Just like Pearl Harbor, do you remember that?
Surprisingly, immediately after Williams verbal attack, a security guard approached Ching and actually threatened to remove him and his party from the game, claiming complaints had been made against Ching for his own disturbance.
Determined to file a complaint of his own, Ching demanded to speak with someone from the Warriors front office and waited until the end of the game before speaking with Robert Rowell, vice-president of Business Operations for the Golden State Warriors, who told the 39-year-old that something would be done.
It took them forever to get down there, said Ching, a Santa Clara resident. And I didnt know if these guys would do anything about this. It didnt seem like it.
After more than a week of waiting, Rowell finally got back to Ching. Instead of offering his apologies, he reprimanded Ching for disseminating his letter, dated March 1, to the NBA and others, including Warriors owner Chris Cohan; general manager Garry St. Jean; Kings owners Joe and Gavin Maloof; and NBA deputy commissioner Russ Granik.
[Rowell] said, You know I dont appreciate you doing this, going to all this stuff, explained Ching. And I think this is all bullshit because [Rowell] should be protecting the fan base. He shouldnt be caught up in this political thing internally.
Nearly seven more days passed until the NBA finally levied a $15,000 fine on Jason Williams for cursing at fans, still much to Chings disappointment.
The NBA reacts quickly to this stuff, said Ching. I mean youve seen this stuff on Lamar Odom and [Isaiah] Rider, so they dont take this stuff softly. If that was done in the work place, you would either be in jail or in a fight with someone.
Bobby Shoker, a co-worker who sat beside Ching and witnessed Williams verbal attack, agrees Williams should pay heavily for his mistake: Had it been caught on ESPN, this guy would have gotten into huge trouble.
Prior to the NBAs fine on Williams, Ching had criticized the NBAs lack of urgency and accused the NBA of sweeping the matter under the rug.
I think its because any negative connotation of the league, especially racism, can only hurt them, it cant help them, Ching said. If this is what the NBA is denoting as their model players, then people should know what he did and that theres a problem.
¢oe Maloof, who called Ching on March 12 to apologize on Williams behalf, said he felt horrible, but that Williams actions were purely an isolated incident.
There are a lot of good people in the NBA and there are a lot of positive things with regard to the NBA, said Maloof. Our fans are our customers and we treat them like royalty. We have a lot of positive things that are happening as well.
Ching, who is of Chinese and Japanese American descent, said he appreciated Maloofs apology, but believes Williams will continue berating fans until the NBA takes a more forceful stance. He also hypothesized that Williams skin color may have had much to do with the NBAs sluggish response.
They havent done anything because I think there are fewer and fewer good white players, said Ching. I think the game is still watched a lot by a white community and they want to see white players. Theyre always trying to find the next Larry Bird. Thats just my own opinion.
Ching maintains he merely wishes to hear a formal apology from Williams. Until then, no fine or suspension will change his mind about the third-year point guard.
If you just look at [Williams], added Ching. He looks like he can be racist, you know, with the shaved head and the skinhead thing.
Williams, 25, has lashed out at fans before. On Nov. 29 last year, the NBA fined Williams $10,000 for comments to a fan at the Alamodome in San Antonio.
People should know what type of person he really is, said Ching. Hopefully, hell learn from this and change.