The 76ers’ J.J. Redick issued multiple statements Sunday after he appeared to have uttered a racial slur in a video showing NBA players wishing a happy Chinese new year to fans in that country. “I ask your forgiveness. . . . I am so sorry for upsetting anyone,” Redick said in a lengthy apology posted late in the evening to Twitter.
Earlier on Sunday, Redick sounded a less contrite tone, saying in a tweet, “Just saw a video that is being circulated of me wishing a happy new year to NBA fans in China. Clearly I was tongue tied, as the word I purportedly said is not in my vocabulary. I’m disappointed that anyone would think I would use that word. I love & respect our friends in China.”
The video, produced by Chinese media company Tencent, featured a number of NBA players, including Stephen Curry, Joel Embiid and Chris Paul, plus Hall of Famer Allen Iverson, offering phrases such as “Happy New Year” and “Happy year of the dog,” some rendered in Chinese. A Lunar New Year on the traditional Chinese calendar began Friday.
When Redick’s turn came up, he appeared to say, “I just wanted to wish all the NBA c—k fans in China a very happy Chinese New Year.” According to ESPN, which has a content-sharing deal with Tencent and helped produce some of the interviews for the video, it was shown at halftime of a game last week between the Warriors and Trail Blazers.
“I was intending to say ‘NBA Chinese fans’ but it sounded weird in my mind so I changed it mid-sentence to ‘NBA fans in China.’ It came out the wrong way,” Redick, 33, said in his apology. “At the time we recorded it, no one in the room — not Tencent, not the 76ers PR team and certainly not myself — heard the word I was purported to say.
“Had I known it sounded anything like that, I would have been mortified and recorded the greeting over again. That is not a word in my vocabulary but I now understand how it sounds on the video,” Redick continued. “That is not who I am — as a person, a player, a husband and a father.”
As Redick indicated in his apology, he does seem to stumble over his words a bit in the video, and there is an editing overlap before the “very happy Chinese New Year” part. However, he received a torrent of criticism online from people offended by his apparent comment and/or skeptical that it came about by accident.
Others were more inclined to give Redick the benefit of the doubt. “JJ Redick definitely said ‘c—k.’ And that’s not cool. BUT … IMO it’s clear there was no ill intent,” ESPN anchor Cary Chow said on Twitter. “Also, his track record helps his case. It’s unfortunate he said it, but I’ll save my grievances for people like Bari Weiss and Laura Ingraham.”
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