Jim Justice, the Republican governor of West Virginia, apparently also has time to coach a high school basketball team at Greenbrier East High School in Lewisburg, West Virginia.
His team's biggest rival is from Woodrow Wilson High School in Beckley, West Virginia, and both their players and coaches are significantly more diverse.
Justice, speaking of his team's rivals, recently referred to them as "a bunch of thugs."
Many people on both sides of the political aisle spoke out against Justice's comments, including Woody Thrasher, his rival for the GOP gubernatorial nomination.
Thrasher openly called for Justice to apologize.
Justice, however, doubled down on his initial comments and claimed he had nothing to apologize for in a statement.
"My definition of a thug is clear ― it means violence, bullying, and disorderly conduct. And we, as West Virginians, should have zero tolerance for this kind of behavior. Anyone that would accuse me of making a racial slur is totally absurd."
So, “thugs” says Jim Justice? 🤔 what a way to describe a teenage GIRLS basketball team. And I can assure you, neith… https://t.co/fSLi1Pbp6i— PoeticGenius916 (@PoeticGenius916)1581503285.0
Justice's controversial comments came after a tense basketball game between the rivals.
A spectator named Ben Anderson told his local ABC affiliate what happened:
"From what I had seen, a Greenbrier East parent had been taunting Woodrow Wilson players throughout the night and the assistant coach for Woodrow Wilson came over to this parent and confronted him and basically it was on from there. There was a lot of jawing going back and forth and then everything basically erupted."
I been tellin people Jim justice ain’t it for a minute now, it’s coming to prove itself 😂😂😂— Micah Bates (@Micah Bates)1581481151.0
The taunting began after a Greenbrier player allegedly elbowed a Woodrow Wilson player in the face.
As a native of Raleigh County, it's appalling to me that Jim Justice would call students thugs. #wvpol #wvgov https://t.co/ErFJkEOjeJ— Ben Salango (@Ben Salango)1581516638.0
Of all WV‘s self-inflicted wounds, Jim Justice is definitely a recent one. https://t.co/YZq355iNne— Chris Regan (@Chris Regan)1581517096.0
The altercation between coach and spectator led a Woodrow Wilson assistant coach to call a time-out.
Shortly thereafter, the Woodrow Wilson head coach led his team off the court, ending the game with 6 minutes left on the clock.
Jim Justice is such a class act. So professional. Amazing! https://t.co/PNpRNx4Mit— Barstool LC (@Barstool LC)1581480428.0
Justice told reporters after the incident:
"They're a bunch of thugs. The whole team left the bench, the coach is in a fight, they walked off the floor, they called the game. They don't know how to behave and at the end of the day, you got what you got."
Gov. Jim Justice should be ashamed of himself for calling CHILDREN thugs.— Jessica 🌻 (@Jessica 🌻)1581544517.0
I hate Jim justice. The end that’s the tweet— jamie r miller (@jamie r miller)1581484016.0
When asked by the Register-Herald if he understood the word thug's well-known racial implications, Justice said racism "wouldn't never even enter my mind."
Which might be the most honest thing he's ever said.