ESPN’s John Anderson has offered an apology and explanation after making a controversial joke about an indigenous player’s last name while calling NHL highlights for SportsCenter on Monday night.
Anderson was providing commentary over the highlights from Monday night’s Las Vegas Golden Knights-Edmonton Oilers game in the second round of the NHL playoffs. Zach Whitecloud scored a goal to give the Golden Knights a 3-1 lead in the second period, prompting Anderson to say, “What kind of name is Whitecloud? Great name if you’re a toilet paper.”
During the Vegas-Edmonton highlight on SportsCenter, John Anderson jokes about Zach Whitecloud's name, saying it's a "great name if you're a toilet paper."
Whitecloud is the first Indigenous NHL player from the Sioux Valley Dakota Nation. pic.twitter.com/gngA1yg8wk
— Awful Announcing (@awfulannouncing) May 9, 2023
“This is totally on me and I sincerely apologize to Zach, the Golden Knights, their fans and everyone else for what I said,” Anderson said in a statement. “It’s my job to be prepared and know the backgrounds of the players and I blew it. I will be reaching out to the team to personally apologize and hope to have the opportunity to speak to Zach as well.”
Whitecloud is one of six indigenous players in the league. The Sioux Valley Dakota Nation is a reservation of about 1,080 people located 30 miles west of Brandon, Manitoba.
UPDATE: Whitecloud spoke with the local media and said he talked with Anderson, accepting the apology of the SportsCenter anchor.
"I don't want to be standing here in front of all of you but I hope we can use it an opportunity for everyone to learn."
Whitecloud broke into tears as the press conference continued.
This clearly affected him and his family deeply. Powerful stuff from a tremendous person.
— SinBin.vegas (@SinBinVegas) May 9, 2023
And here is video of Whitecloud’s statement and interaction with the local media from the Vegas Golden Knights.
? Zach Whitecloud speaks on his pride for his heritage. ? pic.twitter.com/3j5pIQT120
— z – Vegas Golden Knights (@GoldenKnights) May 9, 2023
[AA on Twitter]