Trae Young loves where he’s from.
When he became a blue-chip high school prospect after a few summers of standout performances on the AAU circuit, he had the opportunity to go to any prep school in the country he wanted to prepare for college. Young instead decided to stay at the public school in his hometown at North Norman. When he was a five-star McDonald’s All-American and had offers from all the blue bloods, he chose to sign to Oklahoma because it was closer to home.
Last Thursday, Young’s hometown made national news.
Several members of the Norman girls basketball team, a rival school to the one Young attended, took a knee during the national anthem before a quarterfinal game in the state playoffs. Many of the team’s coaches are a part of the Trae Young Elite AAU program, and many of the players are in his program, too.
“They’re kneeling? F—k them. I hope Norman gets their a— kicked,” game announcer Matt Rowan said on the live mic. “I hope they lose. Come on, Midwest City. They’re gonna kneel like that? Hell no. F-----g n-----s.”
Hey @NFHSNetwork looks like you forgot to cut the Mic!!! "F****** N******" is the one that really got me!! Tell us how you really feel!! THIS IS WHY THEY KNEEL!!!@Migliorino_Nick @tohara_o @NHS_AthDept @gonormantigers pic.twitter.com/mmWQAecLaF— Frankie Parks (@CoachFParks) March 12, 2021
The clip of Rowan’s remarks, posted by Team Trae Young girls director Frankie Parks, went viral on social media, which caused him to release a four-paragraph apology reading that Rowan goes to church and has diabetes.
“I will state that I suffer Type 1 Diabetes and during the game my sugar was spiking,”
........in the statement, Matt Rowan blames his racist comments and use of the n-word on type 1 diabetes. HE BLAMED RACISM ON HIS SUGAR SPIKE. pic.twitter.com/g8LzRjTiQX— Taylor Rooks (@TaylorRooks) March 12, 2021
“While not excusing my remarks it is not unusual when my sugar spikes that I become disoriented and often say things that are not appropriate as well as hurtful,” Rowan’s statement read.
Young had an immediate response to Rowan’s press release, a gif from the famous Snickers campaign of “you’re a little cranky when you’re hungry.”
After the Atlanta Hawks defeated Young’s hometown Oklahoma City Thunder 116-93 for its seventh-straight win, the third-year point guard expounded on his reaction to the situation.
“That’s just a really sad situation,” Young said. “The commentator for him to, it really frustrates me now just thinking about it just knowing those girls.”
“It definitely hit me a little bit different, a little bit more than some others, maybe because of the connections with them.”
The NFHS Network, where Rowan’s slur aired, released a statement condemning racism, hate and discrimination. The network also announced it was investigating the incident and have immediately cut ties with the third-party production crew involved.
“It really just frustrates me just knowing that someone like him had that job and had a voice,” Young said. “To be able to speak into a microphone and that’s how you feel, it’s sad but it’s this world and we’ve got to be better as people, as individuals and that’s just really sad.”
The Norman girls finished a 19-0 season with a state championship two days after the incident.
“I’m proud of the Norman High girls for what they’re doing and what they did,” Young said. “To go out there and get a championship two days later, they really rubbed it in his face.”
Prejudice and racism are topics Young, who hosted a peaceful protest against social injustice in Norman last summer, dealt with firsthand at his high school games, too.
“From a distance,” Young said when asked if he ever dealt with racism in Norman. “Maybe in games. I remember a couple times being in road games in high school, I think a couple fans got ejected for saying certain things. It’s something I grew up knowing. I was taught growing up a lot about it. It’s definitely something that happened to me a couple times in high school.”
As for Young today, his Hawks aim to keep winning as they begin an eight-game road trip Saturday against the Los Angeles Lakers.