Reaction to suspension of Clippers announcers over remarks about Grizzlies' Haddadi

A large majority of respondents to a Los Angeles Times poll believe that Fox Sports overreacted by suspending Los Angeles Clippers broadcasters Ralph Lawler and Mike Smith for one game after the pair made remarks about Memphis Grizzlies center Hamed Haddadi that led one viewer to complain to the network.

The exchange about Haddadi, the NBA's first Iranian player, came toward the end of the Clippers' loss Wednesday night at FedExForum. The Huffington Post has video, and the L.A. Times' sports blog has a transcript:

Smith: "Look who's in."

Lawler: "Hamed Haddadi. Where's he from?"

Smith: "He's the first Iranian to play in the NBA." (Smith pronounced Iranian as "Eye-ranian," a pronunciation that offended the viewer who complained.)

Lawler: "There aren't any Iranian players in the NBA," repeating Smith's mispronunciation.

Smith: "He's the only one."

Lawler: "He's from Iran?"

Smith: "I guess so."

Lawler: "That Iran?"

Smith: Yes.

Lawler: "The real Iran?"

Smith: "Yes."

Lawler: "Wow. Haddadi - that's H-A-D-D-A-D-I."

Smith: "You're sure it's not Borat's older brother?"

Smith: "If they ever make a movie about Haddadi, I'm going to get Sacha Baron Cohen to play the part."
Lawler: "Here's Haddadi. Nice little back-door pass. I guess those Iranians can pass the ball."

Smith: "Especially the post players.

Lawler: "I don't know about their guards."

Comments on the L.A. Times blog posts overwhelmingly support the announcers and oppose the suspension. Clippers point guard Baron Davis said it was "just an unfortunate situation" after Friday's game, for which Lawler and Smith were suspended. Citing Voltaire (!), columnist John McMullen laments the rise of "political correctness" in the NBA:

At least FOX acknowledged the obvious, the fact that Lawler and Smith weren't trying to offend anybody. And, at the end of the day, the whole episode was a no-harm, no-foul situation. FOX issued a punishment that clearly lacked teeth and the P.C. police were fed and placated.

The 71-year-old Lawler, in his 31st season doing Clippers games, and Smith clearly weren't all that well-versed on Iran and this little faux pas, along with the consequences that stemmed from it, aren't going to make them thirsty to educate themselves.

As usual, when the political correctness crowd is involved, nothing gets accomplished.


Personally, I'm baffled that two announcers from Los Angeles -- a city with a huge and prominent Iranian population -- would risk such potentially offensive remarks. Imagine Marv Albert tweaking a Puerto Rican or Dominican player's appearance or nationality during a Knicks telecast. As McMullen allowed even while opposing the suspension, "In today's world, (the suspension was) a no-brainer ... ."


6 Comments

The suspension was a no-brainer only in the sense that those who imposed it lacked a brain. It was overkill.

was it stupid? I guess.

offensive? I suppose that an apology was in order for insensitivity, but a suspension? c'mon...

had they said something like "I saw him ride up on his camel" or something like that, maybe. their comments seem pretty innocuous to me.

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