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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

 
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Comments (651)

They are only 16 comments, 17n including mine.

It really doesn't look like the article interest a lot of people. Which I understand.

The comments I read really show that you do not know anything about Spain and Spaniards. Racism, religion, sex harassement are an US issue.

I hope this hypocrite US society will start changing soon, and clean up your minds
fellows..

Stupid article and stupid discussion, calling a country racist because of this picture is absurd.

Nobody intended to hurt with this joke, this is just ridiculous.

Racism is hatred towards another race or belief in superiority over another race.

The photo pokes fun at Asian facial features, which would be classified as racial insensitivity, but nothing in the photo implies hatred towards Asians or racial superiority over Asians. Racial insensitivity is wrong, but it is not racism.

Bill Plaschke does not know you authenticates the barbarity that has said,
You are not anybody to say that Spain is racist when it is wrong, you're a real stupid and arrogant you do not know what it means racism.
You'll have to tell people how many people have died because of
United States and President Bush in the last few years, so if it deserves an apology to the rest of the world.

Europeans are racist? No! I am in shock.
Thank god there are no Europeans in this country.
Oh wait....

Funny? Yes! Although in this day and age, people in the public eye who make racist comments do get punished. Imus, Dog the Bounty hunter, list goes on. Gasol should keep up with current events more often.

Provided anyone speaks now as if all Spaniards are racists because of this ad, let's talk about the US then. Because in Spain we don't have Indian reserves, we don't put people considered 2nd class citizens in reserves. Nor we don't have the economic, job and educational differences between blacks and whites that one can find in the US.

You should be more concercned on putting an end to this really important and racists issues before complaining about a stupid ad that doesn't harm anyone.

Talk about racism!

I love reading about the people who feel that this is a non-issue and that we live in a faberge egg culture of political correctness. It is insensitive and probably ignorant people like you who probably over-react the most whenever something actually offends you. Then you turn around and look down on people who express their opinion on a topic that might have offended them. In the end, you talk a lot just for attention. Even if all this was over-reacting, you could have just shut your mouths. Instead, you need yourselves heard. Well, we heard you, and we recognize your type all too well. Go have another bud in your wife-beater and lounge in your lounge chair in your trailer park home. Leave the social commentary to those who can think beyond the 9th grade education you received. Kudos to Bill for seeing the social effects of a topic beyond his own personal realm. Pau's whining complaints at refs during the season will be seen with different eyes.

I like Pau but I agree his and his Spanish teammates' gesture in the photo was lame and embarrassing. I guess they will learn not to do that anymore when China buys all of Spain, and Portugal for good measure.

As an Asian American that grew up in Los Angeles, and now lives in San Diego, I agree that Pau needs to apologize for the insensitivity of the ad. It is no wonder that the ad was not to go beyond the boundaries of Spain and since it did, it was in bad taste.

Bill, Please stick to shoddy sports journalism and save the inane lecture on political correctness for your friends in op-ed.
Thanks.

I am from Spain and I have been living in the US for the last 5 years. I consider myself an educated person (MS, PhD). Yet, I had no idea that was an offensive gesture here in the US. My point is that when they did that they did not know it would be offensive. And you don't need to be an ignorant for that. In that context, that was absolutely not racist. When I saw the photo I actually thought it was funny, it was a nice thing to do.
I do not consider that having asian facial features is a bad thing, therefore if I make that gesture I don't consider I would be making fun of anything. Americans should think twice before they make up their opinions. Think about the ontext where this happened, the audience it was intended for, and you will realized that the situation is completely different than you thought. Not everything has to be judjed with the American values of that is offensive and what not. I actually think asian facial features are pretty attractive and it would never occur to me to do that to try to offend anyone.
This was actually a pretty interesting case of different interpretations in different cultures. An informed journailst that does his research could have written a good story about that. instead, the British and American bloggers/journalists turned it into a big deal about racism.
Regarding real racism in Spain, yes, there is racism, just like in any other country where there is immigration (including, of course, the US).

Plaschke, yes you are right about it being offensive but you are blowing it a bit out of proportion, the finger pointing should go at that Chinese sponsor and the team advisor who approved that. It is not Gasol's fault, and you shouldn't turn it into a spectacle of US vs Gasol that is absurd.

I HOPE HE WON'T GET INTO ANY ASIAN RESTAURANT HERE IN LA ANYMORE!!!!
TO THE GUY WHO SAID THAT HE'D BOO HIM WHEN HE GETS ON THE FLOOR NEXT TIME HE PLAYS ..: LET IT OUT BABY, LET IT OUT!!!

WOW, i can't belive that you wrote about this stupid thing...
It is not racist, stop to create dump news.

I am spanish, in my country this reproach is causing a huge surprise. This is not considered an offensive gesture, the embassy of China in Spain has told it, they dont felt attacked or hurt by this gesture, because they understood the significant and the context. It´s a funny commercial, in fact this is part of the "choreography" of a kids song. Even it´s considered to get closer to oriental people.

I feel very bad because oriental people felt hurt...because i think press wanted to change the message of the advert. Why would we hurt oriental people, if spanish team win the global title 2 years ago in Japan?? Most of spaniards love and appreciate China and the oriental countries. Only those who consider that slanting eyes are worse than westerner eyes could felt bad. Natural features dont are the thing that differenciatte between us.

*I´m sorry for language errors

There just is no defense for the photo. It is relective of racism, pure and simple. I don't think Glasol, etal, would appreciate being referred to by a racist term when used in a"funny or something - but not offensive" way. What a blinking idiot - the offense is the use of the term (or in this case, the facial contortion) period, you blithering cretin. If the Olympics were in Africa, would they use black face paint for their stupid ad? It doesn't matter where the ad was supposed to run; it's the thought behind it and in this case it was obviously racist. That's the point that some are missing here. The bottom line is; this photo, while aimed at Asians, is reflective of their collective racism towards anyone that doesn't look like them. Doesn't matter if you are White, Black, Asian or Latin American, this group views you as less than them. You want to support someone like that, then you are just as obtuse as them.

I completely agree with Plaschke. Bottom line: racism is evil and

"One who condones evil is just as guilty as the one who perpetrates it."
— Martin Luther King, Jr.

Sue Dupuy

And this is the Bill Plaschke that derided Barry Bonds for alleged use of steroids (not then illegal) while not writing about the generally known steroid use of then Dodger Paul LoDuca !

Bill, you have the moral authority of a coward!

Cheers.

I find pathetic this cultural imperialism that forces everybody around the world to behave according the cultural standarts of the USA.

The ad is not racist in Spain, and it's not meant to be shown in the USA. PERIOD.

Well, as a spaniard I can only say that this is hypocrite, accusing a whole country of racism because of an advertisement that only wants to fetch some attention from people....and this is coming from a journalist on a country that invented the KKK, that have not allowed the black people to vote until 1965, that have commited a genocide on the American Indian people...and so on and so forth...well, I guess invading countries like Irak or Vietnam is not racist neither.

Of course there are racist people on Spain, probably no less than in other countries, but for sure, no more than on the USA...

Open your eyes Plaschke, look at the streets of USA cities, go to a NRA meeting....you'll find much more racism just on L.A. that on the whole europe and please, stop judging Spain until you have learned a little bit about it.

you are stupid Bill Plaschke usa kill people in irak do you remember? usa killed people in vietnam do you remember? you are idiot.
It is a photo for a interviu idiot is a joke, it`s not racial slight but to kill people in irak an afganistan is racial slight. Eres un gilipollas and you don´t know spanish, you must to learn.

You are talking about Racist?

Please first, take a look at your police department when in your "great" country sticks beatings to black people just for being black.

Incredible you article and the comments posted for FUNNY photo.

Regards

It's really pathetic how Bill Plaschke pretends that everybody around the world behaves according the cultural standarts of the USA.
Cultural imperialism at his finest.
That ad is not racist in Spain, and it's not meant to be shown in the USA.
And he ends writting "Let the Spanish act racist in the privacy of their own little country".
Oh, the irony.

Next we should burn Robert Downey Jr for portraying an actor portraying a black man. He goes to Lakers games. We could sting them up at the same time. Give me a break, people. Remove the sticks out of your arses. They're just having a bit of fun.

 

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