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CLEVELAND (AP) — The Cavaliers apologized Thursday for a video parody that showed a man violently throwing a woman across a room for wearing a Chicago Bulls T-shirt.
During a timeout in Cleveland's win on Wednesday night, the team showed a one-minute video (https://youtu.be/zVV6oXTH9Wc ) on its large scoreboard spoofing a popular TV commercial for United Healthcare in which a couple fall while attempting the famous lift from "Dirty Dancing." In the Cavs' in-arena promotion, the male Cleveland fan lifts his partner then tosses her over a sofa, saying: "Bulls fan? I didn't know you were a Bulls fan."
An announcer then says: "When it's playoff basketball time, you have to be all in. Don't make the same mistake she made."
Later, the woman is shown holding an ice pack on her head and saying: "Well, I'm all-in now," a nod to Cleveland's playoff motto.
The Cavs released a statement Thursday in which they said they regretted their actions.
"While the video was not intended to be offensive, it was a mistake to include content that made light of domestic violence," the team said. "Domestic violence is a very serious matter and has no place in a parody video that plays in an entertainment venue. We sincerely apologize to those who have been affected by domestic violence for the obvious negative feelings caused by being exposed to this insensitive video."
The Cavaliers said they have a long track record supporting domestic violence-related causes and efforts.
Prior to making the apology, the team was widely criticized on social media for being insensitive toward domestic violence.
"The Cleveland Cavaliers should be ashamed of themselves," Nita Chaudhary, co-founder of UltraViolet, an online community that fights sexism, said in a statement. "If the last year has taught us anything, it's that domestic violence is a very serious issue in America — three women die each and every day as a result of domestic abuse. With a national epidemic of violence against women, we simply cannot afford to have the NBA condone this kind of violence."
The ill-conceived video wasn't the only promotion to backfire on the Cavs this week. The team also canceled plans to hand out 20,000 arm slings to show support to injured forward Kevin Love, who is out for the remainder of the season following shoulder surgery. Love attended Game 2 and was given a rousing ovation by Cleveland fans.