Ralph Lawler, Mike Smith suspended for tonight's Clippers telecast
Veteran play-by-play man Ralph Lawler and analyst Mike Smith (above, left and right) were suspended for tonight's Clippers telecast on Fox Sports Prime Ticket for comments made during Wednesday's telecast, according to sources with knowledge of the decision but not authorized to speak publicly.
Fox issued this statement at 5:03 p.m. today: "We regret the remarks made by Clippers announcers Michael Smith and Ralph Lawler during Wednesday's telecast. While we believe that Michael and Ralph did not intend their exchange to be offensive, the comments were inappropriate. We extend our apologies to Hamed Haddadi of the Memphis Grizzlies and to anyone who was offended. We have addressed the situation with Michael and Ralph and have taken appropriate action."
Wednesday's comments came near the end of a dreary Clippers loss, 106-91, in Memphis as rookie Haddadi, a 7-foot-2 center and the first Iranian player in the NBA, came into the game.
In a 40-second exchange Lawler and Smith began talking about Haddadi. A Clippers fan who watched Wednesday’s telecast complained about the verbal exchange and said he received an apology today from Fox Sports.
Here is the exchange:
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.”
Stay tuned to latimes.com/sports for the full story.
-- Diane Pucin
Do you have a Facebook page? Become a fan of the Times' Sports Facebook page and get breaking sports news delivered to your Facebook page.
Photo credit: Joe Murphy / NBAE / Getty Images