The president of Lithuanian basketball club BC Lietuvos Rytas made an inflammatory declaration about the ideal racial composition of teams while reviewing his club's performance last season, which was later scrubbed from the media outlet he helps run and may lead to discipline from the Euroleague.
Gedvydas Vainauskas, a big figure in Lithuanian basketball circles, told an interviewer "there shouldn't be more than two black players on the team," according to FIBA writer Simonas Baranauskas.
"We ended up with four players that are black," Vainauskas continued. "All of a sudden, they came together to form ... how should I put it ... sort of a gang. It cannot be that way; no more than two black players - I can say that from my 23 years of experience in the business. Teams, don't ever have more than two black players ... because that's when bad things to start to happen."
Vainauskas made the comments in a video for Lietuvos Rytas (Lithuanian Morning). He's also editor-in-chief of the news outlet, from which the basketball team takes its name. After news of the controversy broke, footage of the interview that had been uploaded across the Lietuvos Rytas platform was edited to exclude his incendiary comments.
The club is considered one of the powerhouses of the Lithuanian Basketball League, recording a top-three finish in each of the past 20 seasons. Former BC Lietuvos Rytas players currently playing in the NBA include Toronto Raptors center Jonas Valanciunas and Detroit Pistons center Aron Baynes.
Vainauskas addressed the comments via an official release on BC Lietuvos Rytas' website, saying he had been referring to a few of the club's foreign players and adding "I apologize if I was improperly understood."
Euroleague Basketball called "the views expressed by Mr. Vainauskas ... deeply offensive, harmful, and contrary to the principles of inclusion and respect." The league added that it has opened disciplinary proceedings against the club and could exclude BC Lietuvos Rytas from competition in the EuroCup.