By Lucas Shaw
(TheWrap) — ESPN has fired one employee and suspended another for using the same racist word in connection to New York Knicks’ guard Jeremy Lin.
In both cases, an employee used the word “chink” in reference to Lin, a Palo Alto native of Chinese descent.
“We again apologize, especially to Mr. Lin,” ESPN wrote. “His accomplishments are a source of great pride to the Asian-American community, including the Asian-American employees at ESPN. Through self-examination, improved editorial practices and controls, and response to constructive criticism, we will be better in the future.”
One employee used the word in a mobile headline — “Chink in the Armor” — after the Knicks lost to the New Orleans Hornets Friday night.
“I don’t think it was on purpose or whatever, but (at) the same time they have apologized. And so from my end I don’t care anymore,” Lin said after leading the Knicks to a 104-97 win over Dallas on Sunday. “Have to learn to forgive, and I don’t even think that was intentional. Or hopefully not.”
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Lin is the NBA’s first American-born player of Chinese or Taiwanese descent.
The headline was only up from 2:30 a.m. ET to 3:05 a.m., but an SB Nation employee captured it.
A few days earlier, Max Bretos, an anchor on ESPN News used the same phrase while speaking with Knicks legend Walt Frazier. A radio commentator on ESPN’s airwaves also used the word, but the person is not an ESPN employee.
ESPN first apologized on Saturday, then issued the following statement:
“We are conducting a complete review of our cross-platform editorial procedures and are determining appropriate disciplinary action to ensure this does not happen again. We regret and apologize for this mistake.”
The Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund also issued a statement on Saturday calling the phrase “racist and inexcusable.” The organization called on ESPN to issue an apology “aired prominently on ESPN’s television programs,” and also offered to meet with ESPN employees to prevent future racism.
ESPN’s employees are not alone in demonstrating poor judgment when it comes to Lin. MSG, which owns the Knicks, aired an image of Lin popping out of a fortune cookie while Fox Sports columnist Jason Whitlock posted an offensive tweet about basketball’s newest star last weekend.
Whitlock apologized, saying he surrendered to the “immature, sophomoric, comedic” part of his personality.
Lin, a Harvard graduate, has come out of nowhere the past few weeks to lead the Knicks to respectability.
His instant popularity has landed him a spot in the NBA’s All-Star Weekend — in the events Saturday Feb. 25 but not the game Feb. 26 — and also helped MSG and Time Warner Cable resolve a dispute. The two sides had been warring over fees, robbing New Yorkers of local sports programming.
His ascendance has also led to a great deal of discussion about his race and whether it inspired greater fan support.