Mar 30, 2023; San Jose, California, USA; Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Zach Whitecloud (2) skates with the puck against the San Jose Sharks during the second period at SAP Center at San Jose. Mandatory Credit: Neville E. Guard-USA TODAY Sports

ESPN’s John Anderson made a controversial joke about an indigenous player’s last name calling NHL highlights for SportsCenter.

Anderson, who has served as an anchor on SportsCenter since 1999, 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.

In the second period, Golden Knights defenseman Zach Whitecloud scored his first goal of the playoffs to give Las Vegas a 3-1 lead. The Golden Knights would go on to win 5-1 and take a 2-1 series lead over Edmonton, but unfortunately, Anderson’s controversial comments have been at the forefront.

“What kind of name is Whitecloud?” Anderson quipped. “Great name if you’re a toilet paper.”

Zach Whitecloud is the first indigenous NHL player from the Sioux Valley Dakota Nation. There are just 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. Whitecloud means a lot to those in the community who are proud he represents it. 

Perhaps Anderson was trying a little too hard to make a joke, and by doing so, made what many have perceived as a disrespectful remark. Comparing the name Whitecloud to that of toilet paper not only misses the mark, but it’s just another instance of an announcer or commentator mocking or making fun of a last name they don’t understand.

As of the writing of this article, ESPN nor Anderson have commented on his ill-timed remark.

UPDATE: ESPN PR issued this statement to Awful Announcing from John Anderson, apologizing for the comments:

“This is totally on me and I sincerely apologize to Zach, the Golden Knights, their fans and everyone else for what I said. 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 Zack as well.”

About Sam Neumann

Since the beginning of 2023, Sam has been a staff writer for Awful Announcing and The Comeback. A 2021 graduate of Temple University, Sam is a Charlotte native, who currently calls Greenville, South Carolina his home. He also has a love/hate relationship with the New York Mets and Jets.