Basketball: ESPN suspends Wojnarowski over profane e-mail to senator

LOS ANGELES (REUTERS, AFP) ESPN suspended Adrian Wojnarowski late on Saturday night (July 11) without pay, according to reports, one day after the National Basketball Association (NBA) reporter sent a profane e-mail to Missouri Republican senator Josh Hawley.

Outkick was the first to report the suspension while the New York Post reported that Wojnarowski was suspended without pay.

It is unclear how long Wojnarowski will be on the shelf.

ESPN reprimanded Wojnarowski on Friday for his conduct and termed it as”completely unacceptable behaviour”.

Also on Friday, Wojnarowski apologised in a statement for his reply to Hawley, saying in part, “I was disrespectful and I made a regrettable mistake.”

It started when Hawley sent a letter to NBA commissioner Adam Silver on Friday with the subject line saying “Senator Hawley Blasts NBA for Kowtowing to Beijing & Refusing to Support US Military and Law Enforcement.”

Two minutes later, Wojnarowski responded on his ESPN account from his phone with two words: “F*** you.”

Hawley tweeted out Wojnarowski’s response and later tweeted he wasn’t interested in an apology from Wojnarowski.

He also responded to ESPN’s statement: “Don’t make @wojespn apologize. He’s just saying what he really thinks. Call out the @NBA. You know, your job”

In addition to questioning the NBA’s relationship with China, Hawley’s letter also asked why the league won’t allow phrases like “Support Our Troops” and “Back the Blue” on player jerseys once the league restarts play on July 30 near Orlando, Florida.

The league also has outlawed any social justice phrases that pertain to China.

Los Angeles Lakers’ superstar LeBron James on Saturday stressed his insistence to not wear a social justice message on the back of his jersey because it doesn’t “resonate with his mission.”

James, who has often spoken out against racism and police brutality in America, is passing on the NBA’s plan to help bring attention to racial inequality by having players wear messages like “I Can’t Breathe” instead of their family names.

“I didn’t go with a name on the back of my jersey,” forward James said. “It was no disrespect to the list that was handed down to all the players.”

“I commend anyone that decides to put something on the back of their jersey. It is just something that didn’t seriously resonate with my mission, with my goal.”

James said he wishes he had had some input into the jersey change.

“I would have loved to have a say on what would have went on the back of the jersey. I had a couple of things in mind, but I wasn’t part of that process which is OK.

“I don’t need to have something on the back of the jersey for people to understand my mission and what I’m about and what I am here to do.”

The vast majority of NBA players have decided to pick a social justice message when play resumes.

James is one of just about 17 players out of 285 so far who have opted to continue using their family names on the back of their uniforms.

The list of suggested messages, agreed on by the players union and NBA owners and then made available to players, includes “I Can’t Breathe,” which is what George Floyd said more than 20 times before he died with a white police officer kneeling on his neck.

Other messages include: Black Lives Matter; Say Their Names; Vote; Justice; Peace; Equality; Freedom; Enough; Power to the People; Justice Now; Say Her Name; Si Se Puede (Yes We Can); Liberation; See Us; Hear Us; Respect Us; Love Us; Listen; Listen to Us; Stand Up; Ally; Anti-Racist; I Am A Man; Speak Up; How Many More; Group Economics; Education Reform; and Mentor.

James said even though he isn’t taking part in the jersey messages, he is still working behind the scenes to improve the lives of others, especially people in the Black community.

“Being able to use my platform, use the NBA’s platform, to continue to talk about what’s going on. Because I will not stop until I see real change for us in Black America, for African Americans, for people of colour. And I also believe I can do both, though.”

James said he always expected to play in the restart to the season: “I am here for one goal and one goal only and that is to win a championship.”

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