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Plaschke points a finger at Gasol

August 13, 2008 | 10:46 am

China's Yao Ming, left, goes against Spain's Pau Gasol during a men's preliminary round group B basketball match at the Olympic basketball Arena in Beijing on Tuesday.

BEIJING -- Pau Gasol didn’t say he was sorry for the racial slight. He said he was sorry if anyone was offended by the racial slight.

That’s not good enough.

As someone who makes millions of dollars in Los Angeles, in a country and city with a strong Asian-American influence, he needs to do better.

Gasol needs to apologize — period — for joining his Spanish Olympic teammates in using their fingers to make their eyes slanted in a photo promoting the Beijing Games.

The entire team should apologize, of course. But with Gasol being a Laker, and me being an Angeleno, I’m pointing a direct finger at him.

Gasol needs to apologize to Asians everywhere, particularly those who have supported him in the United States, most notably those who welcomed him so graciously this spring in Los Angeles.

No, the photo was not cool. No, there is no possible explanation that would make it cool.

The photo had been running in a Spain publication since last week, but only recently drew the attention of the mainstream media.

In the photo, players used their fingers to supposedly make them "look more Chinese."

It was the centerpiece for a publicity campaign. The team is actually sponsored by Chinese clothing brand Li-Ning. It was supposed to be seen only in Spain.

"It was something like supposed to be funny or something but never offensive in any way," Gasol told the Associated Press. "I’m sorry if anybody thought or took it the wrong way and thought that it was offensive."

Funny? Maybe in Spain, but not in the United States.

And, again, last we looked, he received his paycheck in the United States.

Other players said they were only responding to a photographer’s request. Yeah, like pro athletes will ever do the bidding of a photographer?

“We felt it was something appropriate, and that it would be interpreted as an affectionate gesture,” said Jose Manuel Calderon, a Toronto Raptor, on his ElMundo.es blog.

Appropriate? Affectionate?

When told that people were found the gesture offensive, Gasol said that was "absurd."

To me, it’s absurd that he still doesn’t get it.

Remember, the Spanish sports scene is littered with recent racial incidents, including the abuse of a black race car driver and “monkey chants” against black soccer player.

Let the Spanish act racist in the privacy of their own little country.

The Laker who works for one of the most forward-thinking companies in one of the most global cities in the world — a guy who plays in our diverse backyard — should know better.

Pau Gasol needs to apologize again, and this time he needs to mean it.

Update: IOC critical of Spanish ad

-- Bill Plaschke

Photo: China's Yao Ming, left, goes against Spain's Pau Gasol during a men's preliminary round Group B basketball game at the Olympic Basketball Arena in Beijing on Tuesday. Credit: Filippo Monteforte / AFP / Getty Images

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