Kings investigating claims of racial bias in E40 Game 1 ejection

On Monday, as the Golden State Warriors prepared to face the Sacramento Kings in Game 2 of their opening round playoff series, much attention is focused on Game 1, and an incident off court when rapper E-40, a floor-seat fixture near the Dubs bench, was ejected during that game from Golden 1 Arena.

"At minimum, it’s poor optics on behalf of not just the Sacramento Kings, but also the NBA," said Dr. Shaun Fletcher, a professor of Public Relations & Sport Communications at San Jose State University.

Several social media videos showed a visibly agitated E-40, birth name Earl Stevens, led from the arena by security. This came after a confrontation with another fan seated behind him. The rapper-turned-entrepreneur said racial bias was at play. In a statement he wrote in part, "I finally turned around and addressed one heckler in an assertive but polite manner. Yet, shortly thereafter, Kings’ security approached me, assumed that I instigated the encounter and proceeded to kick me out of the arena."

"Once again, an African-American male is not being given the benefit of the doubt in a situation like this," Fletcher said. 

"I’ve known [E-40] for over 30 years. He don’t even move like that. He moves with integrity," added Jalen Rose, an NBA broadcast analyst.

In response to claims of racial bias, the Kings released a statement that the team is taking the claims of racial bias seriously and will investigate the situation. However, this is not the first time the cloud of racial bias has obscured action on the court.

Nearly four years ago, Alameda County Sheriff’s Deputy Alan Strickland pushed Toronto Raptors President Masai Ujiri – twice. Ujiri was making his way to the on-court championship celebration. Strickland claimed he wasn’t credentialed, but video shows Ujiri with credentials in his hand.

Dr. Fletcher sees a familiar pattern in both instances.

"We continue to see racial bias show up across the different industries. And unfortunately we see it on a large, very publicized national scale," he said.

The NBA hasn’t commented on Saturday's dust up.

The Warriors showed support for their favorite super fan by blasting his music at Monday's shoot-around.

However, E-40 reportedly says he’ll skip Game 2, and leave his hardwood team to do battle without his in-person, full-throated support.

Jesse Gary is a reporter based in the station's South Bay bureau. Follow him on Twitter, @JesseKTVU and Instagram, @jessegontv