ESPN said Sunday it fired an employee and suspended an anchor for using “offensive and inappropriate comments” in its coverage of Asian-American Knicks phenomenon Jeremy Lin.
The moves come after ESPN apologized for a headline that appeared on ESPN.com’s mobile website following the Knicks’ 89-85 loss to the New Orleans Hornets on Friday.
The phrase, which carries obvious racial overtones when used in reference to a person of Asian descent, appeared on the site for more than 30 minutes before being removed at around 3:05 a.m. ET on Saturday.
The expression was also used by ESPN anchor Max Bretos on Wednesday when he asked a question about Lin’s weaknesses during an interview with Hall of Fame guard Walt Frazier.
Following the Knicks’ 104-97 victory over the Dallas Mavericks on Sunday, Lin addressed the situation.
“They’ve apologized and so from my end, I don’t care anymore,” Lin told the New York Daily News.
“You have to learn to forgive, and I don’t even think that was intentional.”
ESPN announced Sunday that it had fired the employee responsible for the headline and was suspending an anchor for 30 days for “offensive and inappropriate comments” used during its coverage of Lin.
ESPN did not release the names of the two employees, but Bretos had made it clear on Twitter late Saturday that he was the anchor responsible and apologized for his comment, saying he did not mean it in a racial sense and that his wife was Asian.
“Wanted 2 apologize 2 all those I have upset. Not done with any racial reference. Despite intention,phrase was inappropriate in this context,” Bretos wrote.
“My wife is Asian, would never intentionally say anything to disrespect her and that community.
“I have learned from this will make every effort to avoid something similar happening again.”
ESPN also said Sunday it had learned a similar phrase was used by ESPN Radio New York. ESPN said that it had not taken action for the radio incident because the commentator was not an ESPN employee.
“We again apologize, especially to Mr. Lin,” ESPN said in a statement. “His accomplishments are a source of great pride to the Asian-American community, including the Asian-American employees at ESPN. Through self-examination, improved editorial practices and controls, and response to constructive criticism, we will be better in the future.”
Lin, the first Asian-American to start an NBA game and an adopted hero in China, committed nine turnovers in the Knicks’ loss to the Hornets at Madison Square Garden on Friday night. Lin, however, still showed flashes of brilliance in the game, scoring 26 points and dishing out 5 assists.
The defeat snapped a seven-game winning streak for the Knicks with the previously unheralded Harvard graduate, who emerged with a run of spectacular performances to lay claim to the team’s starting point guard spot and garner global acclaim.
Following Sunday’s win over the Mavericks, Lin and the Knicks have now won eight of nine games. Lin had a double-double against Dallas.