The Oklahoma City Thunder have suspended play-by-play announcer Brian Davis for saying Russell Westbrook was out of his “cotton-picking mind” during his broadcast Wednesday night.
Davis, who was suspended for one game, apologized in a statement to ESPN, saying that although the remark was unintentional, he recognizes it carries racist undertones and should not have been used.
“It is with great remorse and humility that I accept this suspension for the insensitive words I used during Wednesday’s broadcast,” Davis said in the statement. “While unintentional, I understand and acknowledge the gravity of the situation. I offer my sincere apology and realize that, while I committed a lapse in judgment, such mistakes come with consequences. This is an appropriate consequence for my actions.”
The remark immediately drew fierce backlash on social media for its racist connotation. The term “cotton-pickin” originated in the south, where it was often used in the 1800’s as a reference to black slaves working in the cotton fields. Thunder vice president of broadcasting Dan Mahoney also weighed in on its offensiveness.
“Brian assures me that it was not meant in any derogatory way, and he apologizes,” Mahoney said. “But again, we feel strongly that it’s inappropriate and offensive.”