NBA Owner Advocates Violence Against Arab Americans

Washington, D.C. | | November 9, 2023 – Earlier today, the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) received disturbing information about hate fueled comments made by Cleveland Cavaliers co-owner Gary Gilbert. The comments, made online, are anti-Arab, anti-Palestinian, Islamaphobic, anti-Black and homophobic. In his posts, Gilbert regularly advocates for violence against Arab and Palestinian Americans. After thorough investigation we have authenticated that these messages did come from Gilbert’s social media accounts. Gary Gilbert is the brother of Dan Gilbert, co-owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers and founder of Rocket Mortgage.

ADC has reached out to the office of NBA Commissioner Adam Silver and demanded that he take immediate action. ADC has called on Commissioner Silver to issue a condemnation of the comments and suspend Gilbert from all NBA arenas for the safety of Arab, Palestinian, and Muslim spectators in attendance. In addition, we called on commissioner Silver to trigger the process to force Gilbert to sell his stake of ownership of the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Gilbert, who has openly advocated violence against those expressing support for Palestine, has made statements such as, “we’re armed and ready for you punks,” and has stated that college students advocating for Palestine, “just need a good punch in the face.” He has also made anti-Black and homophobic comments about the first Black and openly Queer White House Press Secretary, Karine Jean-Pierre, calling her “disgusting.”

ADC National Executive Director Abed Ayoub said, “Discrimination and racism in all of their forms have no place in sports. As a global game, the NBA has a responsibility to denounce hate speech and ensure that anyone affiliated with the association adheres to its commitment to social justice. After the Donald Sterling controversy, it is disheartening to see that some of those in ownership positions still hold bigoted and hatful views.”

Cleveland, Ohio has a significant Arab populationmaking Gilbert’s comments a pressing concern that hits close to home for many. The implications are dire for the safety of Arab, Palestinian and Muslim Americans attending NBA games and related events. The staggering surge in hate crimes across the country has created an environment of unease, making Gilbert’s racist rhetoric a real threat that casts a dark shadow over the spirit of sport.

ADC is committed to fighting all forms of hate, if you are a victim of a hate-crime, contact

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