Last Friday, the Fox Sports Prime Ticket cable network suspended longtime Los Angeles Clippers announcer Ralph Lawler and analyst Michael Smith for controversial comments the two made on air about Memphis Grizzlies center Hamed Haddadi two days prior.
During the game, Lawler expressed surprise that an Iranian would be playing in the NBA. “He’s from Iran?!” Lawler asked. “THAT Iran?!” Smith then ridiculed Haddadi by comparing him to “Borat”:
SMITH: Are you sure that’s not Borat’s older brother? […] If they ever make a movie avout Haddadi I’m going to get Sasha Baron Cohen to play the part. […]
LAWLER: Here’s Haddadi, nice little back door pass
SMITH: Look at that pass!
LAWLER: I guess those Iranians can pass the ball!
The National Iranian American Council (NIAC) encouraged Iranian-Americans to contact Fox to complain. “More than 2,000 people responded to our call,” NIAC claimed on Saturday announcing that Fox had issued an apology:
“We regret the remarks made by Clippers announcers Michael Smith and Ralph Lawler during Wednesday’s telecast. While we believe that Michael and Ralph did not intend their exchange to be offensive, in retrospect, the comments were inappropriate. We extend our apologies to Hamed Haddadi of the Memphis Grizzlies and to anyone who was offended. We have addressed this situation with Michael and Ralph and have taken appropriate action.”
NIAC is still working to ensure that the apology is read on air.