Two Los Angeles Clippers TV announcers, who were suspended for one game after using 'insulting' language about an Iranian player, met with Hamed Haddadi on Sunday and said the summit "went really well."
Interestingly, Haddadi never said he was offended by the remarks. Instead, the chain of events began after one Iranian-American TV viewer emailed a complaint to Fox Sports about the language used to describe the foreign-born center.
The Clippers were playing the Memphis Grizzlies on November 18 when 25-year play-by-play man Ralph Lawler (pictured at left) and analyst Michael Smith talked about Grizzlies' Haddadi. Here is what they said:
Smith: "He's the first Iranian to play in the NBA."
Lawler: "There aren't any Iranian players in the NBA."
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."
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One of the biggest complaints was how the duo incorrectly pronounced Haddadi as being "Eye-ranian" instead of "e-ranian."
Sunday night the two teams met again, and a sit-down was scheduled between the announcers and Haddadi before the game.
"It was really good to get a chance to shake his hand and look him in the eye. We reached out to him, he reached back, and I feel real good about it," Lawler told the Associated Press.
Before the meeting with Haddadi, the announcers met with his agent/manager, as well as three representatives of the Alliance of Iranian Americans. They told them Haddadi read the transcript of what they said, and saw the clip.
"He doesn't speak a whole lot of English, so we had his manager translate for us," Lawler added. "He basically indicated that he's seen a number of our shows and thought that some people kind of took what we said out of context. He understood there were no ill intentions and understood our humor."
In addition to apologizing to Haddadi, Lawler and Smith apologized on-air when they returned from their suspension.