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NBA announcer suspended for ‘cotton-picking’ comment during basketball game

Russell Westbrook of the Oklahoma City Thunder looks on during the first half of a NBA game against the New Orleans Pelicans. Sean Gardner/Getty Images

A sports announcer for the Oklahoma City Thunder was temporarily suspended after making a racially insensitive comment during Wednesday’s game.

During the game, play-by-play announcer Brian Davis said player Russell Westbrook was “out of his cotton-picking mind.” He made the comment after Westbook made a complicated pass to his teammate Terrance Ferguson.

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The term loosely means someone has gone crazy or lost their mind. Its origins are traced back to slavery in the southern United States, when black slaves were forced to harvest cotton.

In a statement to ESPN, Davis apologized for the comment, explaining he has been suspended for one game.

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“It is with great remorse and humility that I accept this suspension for the insensitive words I used during Wednesday’s broadcast,” the statement, shared on Twitter by reporter Royce Young, read.

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“While unintentional, I understand and acknowledge the gravity of the situation. I offer my sincere apology.”

In a separate statement, Oklahoma City Thunder’s vice president of broadcasting said the statement made by Davis was “offensive and inappropriate.”

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“We think, obviously, the use of that term was offensive and inappropriate, and I expressed that to Brian last night,” Dan Mahoney told the Norman Transcript. “Brian assures me that it was not meant in any derogatory way, and he apologizes.”

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Mahoney added that he wasn’t sure if Davis, who is a full-time employee of the team, would apologize for his comments in a future broadcast.

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Also during Wednesday’s game, Westbrook became the first player in NBA history to average a triple-double in multiple seasons.

“I’m very, very blessed to go out and play every single night,” Westbrook said in a post-game interview.

— With files from Reuters

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