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How Much Faith Will The NBA Put In Utah Jazz Note-Taking?

Utah Jazz executive vice president of basketball operations Dennis Lindsey in a 2017 interview.
Utah Jazz executive vice president of basketball operations Dennis Lindsey in a 2017 interview.
Screenshot: The Salt Lake Tribune/YouTube

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports that the NBA has opened an investigation into the Utah Jazz’s 2015 end-of-season exit interviews, at which former player Elijah Millsap says basketball operations executive Dennis Lindsey told him “if u say one more word, I’ll cut your Black ass and send you back to Louisiana.”

Lindsey has denied saying this to Millsap; “I emphatically deny making that statement,” he said in a statement to The Athletic. Jazz coach Quin Snyder, who Millsap says was part of the 2015 conversation, told reporters on Wednesday, “Honestly I don’t remember the conversation. But I can’t fathom Dennis saying something like that.” The organization released a statement on Thursday evening saying the Jazz “seek a comprehensive and unbiased review of the situation.” But Wojnarowski’s story—mostly an account of how eagerly the Jazz are cooperating with the NBA’s investigation—puts a bizarre amount of weight on the evidence the Jazz are turning over to the league: “detailed notes” from the end-of-season meeting.

Millsap had an exit meeting in April 2015 that sources said included Lindsey, Snyder and general manager Justin Zanik, who was then an assistant general manager tasked with keeping detailed notes of the conversation.

Those notes were entered into a team database, and league forensic investigators can determine whether they’ve been altered or updated in any way, sources said.

Sure, forensic investigators could determine whether the notes of the meeting were corrupted after they were taken, but that assumes—boldly!—the notes were a perfectly faithful account of the meeting to begin with. If Lindsey did make a racist comment to Millsap, what would motivate an assistant general manager to write it down? There’s something a little tidy about framing the notes as potentially exculpatory evidence, treating something written by a human being employed by one of the parties involved as a complete, infallible account of the interaction. (Wojnarowski calls the notes “verbatim” without providing any reason to believe that’s true.) There are surely more thorough means of investigating Millsap’s story—conducting interviews, tracking down contemporaneous accounts—even if they’re not as cool- or authoritative-sounding as hacking the Jazz mainframe.