ESPN's changing Wiggins story.

The latest NBA media controversy involves numerous outlets, including the Associated Press and ESPN, claiming that Minnesota Timberwolves’ star Andrew Wiggins apologized for something he says he never said.

This all started Tuesday night after Minnesota’s 119-117 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder, a game that got chippy, especially after Thunder center Nerlens Noel fell and left the game following a third-quarter collision with Wiggins. That led to several Thunder players going after Wiggins, including Dennis Schröder. After the game, Wiggins spoke to media in the locker room, and his comment on Schröder (at the 30-second mark below) was widely transcribed as “I don’t know what’s wrong with him. Uh, he was just gay. He was acting crazy for no reason.”

However, Wiggins insisted on Twitter later that he said “getting,” not “gay”:

And where this gets really interesting is in how various outlets covered Wiggins’ response. For example, ESPN (in a story jointly credited to ESPN’s Royce Young and the AP) ran the headline of “Andrew Wiggins: Meant no disrespect with ‘gay’ remark about Dennis Schroder,” a story that included this:

Hours after he called Oklahoma City Thunder guard Dennis Schroder “gay,” Minnesota Timberwolves forward Andrew Wiggins sought to clarify his remark, saying early Wednesday morning that he wouldn’t use “any term to disrespect” the LGBT community.

ESPN took some criticism for this on Twitter, though:

And now, they’ve changed their headline, but kept in the claim Wiggins called Schroder “gay”:

But it’s not just ESPN. The AP had a similar reaction, in a story posted on headlined “Wolves’ Wiggins apologizes for using ‘gay’ as derogatory term“:

Minnesota forward Andrew Wiggins has apologized for using the word gay to describe Oklahoma City Thunder guard Dennis Schroder’s behavior during their game.

…After the game, Wiggins says he thought Schroder’s actions were unwarranted and that “he was just gay. He was acting crazy for no reason.”

Later, on Twitter, Wiggins apologized, saying: “I have the utmost love and respect for the LGBTQIA community and I would never use any term to disrespect them in anyway.”

Update: As per SI’s Jacob Feldman, the NBA’s site has now changed their headline too, but not the article.

In any case, “apologized” is not what happened. Wiggins didn’t apologize; he “clarified” (or claimed) that he didn’t say gay, and then said he would never use any term to disrespect the LGBTQIA community. And outlets describing his remarks as an apology isn’t accurate. It’s easy to hear “gay” in the above clip, and perhaps this is all a retroactive defense from Wiggins after realizing he slipped up, but even arguing that would be more accurate than saying he apologized.

It’s also possible that Wiggins really did say “getting,” which does make sense in the flow of his comments as a trail-off he then restarted as “acting,” and reporters heard “gay.” At any rate, tons of outlets (especially thanks to the AP story, as their content is widely picked up) are now stating it as fact that Wiggins said “gay” despite his insistence to the contrary, and claiming that he “apologized” for that term when he did nothing of the sort. And that’s not a great look for the media.


About Andrew Bucholtz

Andrew Bucholtz has been covering sports media for Awful Announcing since 2012. He is also a staff writer for The Comeback. His previous work includes time at Yahoo! Sports Canada and Black Press.