Olympics Blog

News about the Summer and Winter Games

« Previous Post | Olympics Blog Home | Next Post »

Plaschke points a finger at Gasol

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

Post a comment
If you are under 13 years of age you may read this message board, but you may not participate.
Here are the full legal terms you agree to by using this comment form.

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until they've been approved.

If you have a TypeKey or TypePad account, please Sign In

Comments (651)

I'm Asian American and I found the picture funny. Was I the only one that chuckled?

thanks bill. well said. is east west bank still a lakers sponsor? if they are you better believe another apology is forthcoming.

I could care less if someone makes fun at them. If you don't like it go back to communist china. I'm tired of this china love fest the american media is having. I don't understand how they can pump up a communist dictatorship like they do. Oh, and if you and live in the US and are chinese or of decent either check yourself and root for the country giving you the freedom to pursue hapiness or go back you your communist country.

pau gasol and his idiotic teammates should be kicked out of beijing olympics. how can you insult people of china when you there playing basketball there? obviously he's just a complete idiot and an ignorant racist ! as a long time lakers fan, i would ask GM Mitch K to trade him, we do NOT need another racist in wonderful city of LA ! Asians made up of 30% of population in LA, that last thing we need is a Spanish racist playing for the Lakers.

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

That statement is rascist itself so plaschke should look at himself and stop looking at other people for their faults look in the mirror pal.

Remember, this (Spain) is the same country who make monkey sounds at colored soccer players when they touch the ball during soccer matches. I dont care if its the US or Spain or anywhere, racism is racism, which is unfortunately EVERYWHERE in this world. Whatever is done in darkness will always come to light and in a global world that we live in, something like this is gonna get out sooner or later.. shame on pau and spain for not only their insensitivity, but more their STUPIDITY....

This is meant to be a harmless ad. Nothing but that. And that's what it is: harmless ad. You want to see racism on this? Hope you didn't cheer Ahmed the Terrorist anytime, because it's laughin' about a figure who has caused death to millions of people all around the world. That's pretty worst. No Chinese (political dudes included) have felt that photo was racist. So who has the problem? You should write about many other things before this nonsense.

Now it's time for you to apologize of "Let the Spanish act racist in the privacy of their own little country". You beg for apologizing for some kind of let's-call-it-racism and you say that. Cool. And sensitive, indeed.

Americans complaining about racism? hahahahaha
In Spain that doesn't mean anything offensive. As Calderon said, it's an affective gesture. Maybe the problem is that in US it's taken as an insult, so I think you have to wonder why occurs this. Do you, Americans, use it in that way? In that case, who are racists?
Please don't try to seem politically correct, you aren't so.

and you, the americans, call afroamericans at all the black people living in the states, but not, it's not the same, sure... I find it ridiculous, that your newspaper/society accuses Spain of racism for this advertisement, when it was made without any bad intensions. Remember that your country is generating war for a little bit of oil...

This is an example of how different Western countries can interpret an image.
To me (and to most people here in Spain, and probably in Europe), the ad has not racist connotations whatsoever, because it is widely interpreted as follows: with that gesture, players are telling viewers they will fight as strongly and proudly as if they were local -Chinese- players. As simple as that.

"The photo and gesture are without a doubt offensive and racist. It is not for Pau, the Spanish Team or the IOC to say what is or is not offensive. That right is reserved for the offended group" Posted by: Urban Bruin

YOUR RIGHT TO BE OFFENDED ??? seems like EVERYONE is offended for anything and everything these days and DEMANDING THEIR RIGHT TO BE OFFENDED, their offended by an ad NOT running in the U.S but in Spain. choreographed by a Chinese company in Spain that you had to go out of your way to find and look at. Someone else is OFFENDED that China used a girl to lip-synch a song on the opening night. Mark Spitz is OFFENDED that he did not get an invite to Comment at the swimming events when Philips breaks his record. Pau should stand pat because no matter HOW many times he apologizes the folks that are OFFENDED won't be happy because it's their RIGHT TO BE OFFENDED !!!!

As an Asian American, I'm MORE offended that media people like Bill Plashke are telling ME that I should be offended. I personally was not offended when I saw the photo, knowing that it was meant as a joke and meant to be published only in Spain. This is no different than the Muslims around the world getting upset and threatening physical injury to the Danish cartoonist for drawing cartoons making fun of Prophet Mohammed - when the cartoons were published in a Danish newspaper meant for Danish readers, and NOT in a newspaper in a Muslim country... Why do we feel we need to impose our views on others, or think we know what other races will find offensive?? There are a lot more important issues in the world, so this incessant need to be "politically correct" is very offensive to me!

The Far-East Asians (whether in the USA or elsewhere) generally do not dwell upon provincial acts of racism against them because it is basically counterproductive: To spend time and energy crying about it solves nothing and achieves probably less. Asians, despite a history of racism against them here and abroad, have the innate knowledge that the only way to "win" this game is to outsmart and outwork the belligerent party. I actually view the Spanish act for what it is: a physical act of ignorance from a people that are essentially less intelligent than the people they are attempting to demean (whether consciously or not). Racism is probably coded into all of our DNA to an extent (as we are programmed to propagate our own genes) so to be discombobulated at every instance of racism is one way to react - imo a better response is to acknowledge the act but then continue to prove who is the smarter and harder-working person.

In sum, Asians would prefer not to be cornered into the Victim's position in cases like this since that would suggest that the offensive party is somewhat stronger, better or otherwise superior...in this case who on Earth would actually believe the Spanish to be superior to the Far-East Asians in matters of true import?

Mr. P, your absolutely right on this one, and I'm actually surprised in how fast this column went up. Not only because I am Asian-American, but because the United States is a melting pot of different ethnicities, a grown-a** man who makes a paycheck of that much, should be aware of the environment and surroundings. And it should be noted that Hispanic and Latino heritages get racially profiled as much, if not more, than other races, so why egg it on by being more disrespectful than offensive. It was disrespectful in the thought that they did it, but it was offensive when everyone got to share their opinion about it. (You should bring this up on your next round of Around The Horn!

oh just grow up

As an Asian I'm a bit irked by the photo. Offended, probably not. Especially when you compare a childish gesture to the real human rights issue in China that's hidden underneath the Olympic glitz.

I'm fairly certain that this is largely a non issue for the Chinese, especially Chinese Americans in LA. Asians tend to be more "offended" by outside opinions that somehow challenges their nationalism than insensitive remarks or gestures. If Gasol said "China should pay for what they did to Tibet" I suspect the masses will rise up in anger, whereas most Americans might applaud his willingess to speak out. Remember the Chinese are "suing" Sharon Stone for blaming the quakes on their human rights violation.

First before writing it should have reported, the Chinese ambassador in spain has said that they don´t feel insulted or offended, in spain this gesture is not done to offend the Asians, though probably there in USA yes,so who is the racist now?
The worst)of all is that wants to give a moral lesson to Pau and at the end of the article He say " Let the Spanish act racist in the privacy of their own little country " This words are totally racist

Bill if you want to writte abot racist writte about Guantanamo, wars for oil, or atomicbomb ( yes it was in a Asian county)

Bill, I definitely agree with you and further, to look at the larger context, this incident illustrates a big cultural divide -- not between Caucasians and Asians per se, but between much of Europe and the U.S. As a Spaniard, Pau just doesn't get it. He doesn't understand why people would be offended by this. He doesn't understand the overtones of making a race-based joke because Spanish society (and most of Europe as well) has never fully addressed such behavior.

Imagine if the ad had run in the U.S. -- people would've been at the team's throats for pushing the hot button of race. It's a cultural thing here -- our national identity has been forged through such experiences as slavery and civil rights; as a result, we're collectively more race-sensitive. We learn it's NOT okay for anyone -- much less a public figure -- to point out the distinguishing qualities of a minority group. And trust me, there is definitely an Asian immigrant community in Spain who probably doesn't see this as an "affectionate" gesture.

We do have problems in America, but one of our better accomplishments has been the racial dialogue that, though far from perfect here, is almost completely absent elsewhere.

To Pau: Maybe sometimes people are offended simply for the sake of being offended, but when it comes to race, there's usually a history of alienation and oppression that's reopened every time someone makes a "harmless" joke like this.

Who cares....if you are chinese and don't like it, tough! welcome to the racial racist party that is earth. Oh and if you are Chinese living in the US and are rooting for China....LEAVE! Go back to your communist country. Go back to your dictatorship....and NBC, Enough with the China Lovefest.

Sup Plaschke, always great columns. But this I think is sort of an over-reaction. I am an Asian-American (proud Chinese at that) and I wasn't really offended by this. In my opinion, I think the only way to get past racism IS in fact to joke about it. I thought it was kind of funny in a way, especially considering this is like the oldest Chinese racial joke in the book. I think that over-reaction (from a white man too) may be the only thing making the advertisement racist. Giggling at it and acknowledging that the ad is pretty non-PC, I think, is what they wanted. My eyes are super slanted, and I take it as a compliment that the Spanish national Olympic basketball team wants to be like me. =)

RIGHT ON BILL. Spain is a little stupid racial country, we should not allow these people to be on any US team. There is NO WAY they could so this was funny, this was DUND, STUPID, of all those player, I'm suprise not any one of them refuse to go along with it. THEY WILL LOSE. Then they can run back to that little backward country and jump off a bridge.

is the KKK spanish? noooo
violence in LA years ago???
Who is racista?

Oh Stop It. Us Americans are so bored with our spoiled little lives that we look for things to offend us. The gesture is harmless and anyone who thinks otherwise is actuallly the cause of racism. You think your race is beyond ridicule, nobody is beyond ridicule. Lighten up it was obviously done in the light of fun, that why Gasol's remarks are of surprise. He is surprised that we would take it so seriously, he is not used to being an american yet. He will soon realize that we are all full of sh*%. Humble yourselves America, if you havent noticed we are on our way out, it was a good run while it lasted. But a country is only as good as the people in it, and Im not particularly proud to be part of this bafoonary.

Hilarious...baseball season and Bill is jonesing to write about anything. Please, fools, tasteless and insensitive...a a bad joke. Making a federal case out of it is ridiculous with so much else going wrong at this time. Making it a Laker's problem or issue, WTF, Bill, if you're that bored, I've got something for you. Why not write an expose' on the future of NBA basketball and its inevitable global expansion?

Hey Ami,
The quality of your thoughts is reflected in the quality of your spelling. The word is "affected" by it, not "effected." And that "Fabrigee" egg? It's faberge. If could spell, people might actually listen to you.



Recommended on Facebook


In Case You Missed It...

About the Bloggers