American Airlines has apologized for kicking two professional basketball players off of a plane after a false theft accusation on Christmas Eve.
Trahson Burrell and Marquis Teague, who play for the Memphis Hustle of the NBA G League -- the new name for the development league -- were boarding an Envoy Air flight to Sioux Falls from DFW Airport when two first-class passengers gave them their blankets.
A flight attendant accused Burrell and Teague of stealing the blankets, which are only available to coach passengers for a fee, and kicked them off the plane.
“We apologize for what occurred on this flight. We take pride in bringing people together, and we know that on this flight we let some of our customers down,” American Airlines said in a statement. “Our team at American, along with Envoy Air, is reviewing what happened, and will be reaching out to them.”
Envoy Air is the rebranded American Airlines subsidiary formerly known as American Eagle.
Burrell and Teague later flew first class to Sioux Falls and started in the Hustle's Christmas Day game against the Sioux Falls Skyforce. Burrell scored 14 points and grabbed 11 rebounds in the contest, while Teague added 11 points of his own in the 131-115 Hustle win.
Darnell Lazare, listed as an assistant video coordinator with the Memphis Grizzlies organization, took to Twitter to voice his frustration over the theft accusation.
"It's 2017 and a Flight attendant for @AmericanAir sees 2 young black athletes with blankets from first class, his 1st comment is 'did you steal them'," he wrote. "How about you teach people to get the facts first before jumping to conclusions. #beingblackinamerican."
According to the Chicago Tribune, the flight attendant involved in the confrontation is also black.
In November, American Airlines CEO Doug Parker announced measures the airline would take to become “a more diverse and inclusive company,” including the implementation of an implicit bias training program, an overhaul of its customer discrimination claims process and an examination of its diversity and inclusion practices.