Russell Westbrook turned in a remarkable performance in the Oklahoma City Thunder’s final regular-season game Wednesday night, posting six points, 20 rebounds and 19 assists in a 137-123 win over the Memphis Grizzlies to finish with his second-straight season averaging a triple-double. But much of the discussion following the game wasn’t about that, but rather about a comment Fox Sports Oklahoma play-by-play broadcaster Brian Davis (in his eighth season as the team’s TV voice) made after Westbrook hit a three:
Did he just say “Westbrook is out of his cotton-picking mind”?….. pic.twitter.com/fvPZ5cTkjx
— Mark Robinson (@MarkyRobs) April 12, 2018
That created just a ton of controversy on Twitter, as that particular phrase has spurred debate forever about if it’s a racial insult given the history of slavery and cotton farming in the U.S., a general shot at farmhands regardless of color, or a folksy tie to Bugs Bunny and more. And people are unsurprisingly strongly in both camps here. But the reaction illustrates that this probably shouldn’t be in an announcer’s vocabulary, and that there are probably much better ways to say this that won’t create this kind of firestorm.
UPDATE: Thunder vice president of broadcasting Dan Mahoney has chimed in. Via The Norman Transcript:
“We think obviously the use of that term was offensive and inappropriate, and I expressed that to Brian last night,” Mahoney said Thursday. “Brian assures me that it was not meant in any derogatory way, and he apologizes. But again, we feel strongly that it’s inappropriate and offensive.”
Mahoney said it would be up to Davis whether or not to address the comment on a future broadcast.
[Mark Robinson on Twitter]