The coach of the Henry Sibley boys’ basketball team went on Twitter Friday to dissociate his program from the Mr. Minnesota Basketball Award because of what he described as racist commentary on Twitter by the award program’s figurehead.
In a tweet directed at Ken Lien, longtime head of the award program that honors the state’s top senior player, Sibley coach John Carrier wrote, “I’m sorry @mrbasketballmn, I can no longer stand by silently and support these types of tweets from someone representing our state.”
A since-deleted tweet from Lien’s account used crude language to express support for another tweet that said “Wake up America – Ignore at your own peril! Angry Muslims taunt NJ schools: ‘We’re Going to Be the Majority Soon.’ ”
Lien, in response to Carrier’s tweet, the Minnesota Basketball Coaches Association Twitter account and others sympathetic with Carrier’s view, tweeted: “I get upset & defensive when people bash our country, etc. I take great pride representing Mr.bb for 40 years; again, plz forgive.”
Lien also tweeted, “I’m very sorry for my comments; plz accept my sincere apologies.” Efforts by the Star Tribune to reach Lien for comment were not successful Friday evening.
Carrier, reached for comment, declined to elaborate.
In his Twitter post, Carrier said he teaches at St. Paul Humboldt and works with Muslim and minority students. He said his rejection of the program might be a hollow gesture this year, as none of his players will be up for an award. He added, “I also hope that other programs and our Minnesota Basketball Coaches Association follow suit.”
Among many tweets expressing support for Carrier was one from Jabbar Washington, who played on three Minneapolis North championship teams in the 1990s. “The damage is done @mrbasketballmn the damage is already done,” he wrote on Twitter. “You can’t erase your true feelings.”
Lien replied with a tweet that said, “Sorry you feel that way Jabbar.”
Saturday morning, the Minnesota Basketball Coaches Association expressed support for Carrier on its Twitter page:
"Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak." Kudos to Coach Carrier for his courageous response. pic.twitter.com/k4OyVLF5mp— MN BB Coaches Assoc (@MN_BCA) February 11, 2017