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Nov-23-2009 15:03printcomments

PAAIA Commends Iranian Americans for Speaking Out and Fox Sports for Issuing Apology

Iranian Americans and PAAIA outraged by "Derogatory Remarks" made on Fox Sports about NBA's Iranian player Hamed Haddadi.

Grizzlies’ Center Hamed Haddadi is Iranian
Grizzlies’ Center Hamed Haddadi is Iranian

(WASHINGTON D.C.) - On Wednesday November 18th, Fox Sports announcers Ralph Lawler and Michael Smith made terribly insensitive and inappropriate on-air remarks about Grizzlies’ Iranian center, Hamed Haddadi, during a broadcast of their game with the Los Angeles Clippers.

The announcers’ insulting remarks demonstrated a complete lack of cultural sensitivity and respect for Haddadi’s Iranian heritage, and have rightfully outraged the Iranian American community.

In a letter to senior executives at Fox Sports, PAAIA has conveyed the community’s outrage and its condemnation of such remarks, while also commending them for having since issued an apology to Haddadi and others who have been offended.

After Wednesday’s telecast, Fox Sports suspended Lawler and Smith for Friday night’s game and issued an apology stating:

“We regret the remarks made by Clippers announcers Michael Smith and Ralph Lawler during Wednesday's telecast. While we believe that Michael and Ralph did not intend their exchange to be offensive, in retrospect, the comments were inappropriate. We extend our apologies to Hamed Haddadi of the Memphis Grizzlies and to anyone who was offended. We have addressed this situation with Michael and Ralph and have taken appropriate action.”

PAAIA condemns all culturally insensitive and offensive remarks, whether it is against Iranians or any other ethnic group. As the first Iranian player in the NBA, Haddadi’s presence should be applauded as a great example of the diversity and inclusiveness of American society and the National Basketball Association. Instead, Lawler and Smith’s inappropriate comments only served to further an unfortunate culture of ignorance and prejudice that should have no place in our society. Accordingly, the Iranian American community and PAAIA have rightfully let it be known that such remarks and perspectives should not and will not be tolerated.

Here is the transcript of the conversation between Lawler and Smith from the Los Angeles Times' Web site:

Smith: "Look who's in."

Lawler: "Hamed Haddadi. Where's he from?"

Smith: "He's the first Iranian to play in the NBA." (Smith pronounced Iranian as "Eye-ranian," a pronunciation that offended the viewer who complained.)

Lawler: "There aren't any Iranian players in the NBA," repeating Smith's mispronunciation.

Smith: "He's the only one."

Lawler: "He's from Iran?"

Smith: "I guess so."

Lawler: "That Iran?"

Smith: "Yes."

Lawler: "The real Iran?"

Smith: "Yes."

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."


News release from: Public Affairs Alliance of Iranian Americans, quotes from game credited to the LA Times.

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Sean Flynn was a photojournalist in Vietnam, taken captive in 1970 in Cambodia and never seen again.

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