Los Angeles Clippers announcers Ralph Lawler and Mike Smith were suspended from Friday night’s telecast after making comments about Memphis Grizzlies’ Hamed Haddai on Wednesay.
The duo had the following exchange in the closing minutes of the Clippers’ loss to the Grizzlies, which prompted a viewer to complain and Fox Sports Prime Ticket to take action.
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?”
Lawler: “The real Iran?”
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.”
The 7-foot-2 Haddai is, indeed, the first Iranian to ever play in the NBA. At least they got that part correct. He’s averaging .7 points per game in six appearances this year.
In a statement, the network said they believed the comments were not intended to be offensive, but were inappropriate.