We’ve never seen a Woj bomb like this before.
American Senator Josh Hawley sent a letter to NBA commissioner Adam Silver criticising the league’s once-cozy and now-complicated relationship with China. Then the NBA’s most prominent reporter offered a blunt response to the Republican.
“F*** you,” wrote ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski — who didn’t use stars in his correspondence — after being included in a press release with details of the letter.
Hawley, 40, posted a screenshot of the email, tweeting, “Don’t criticise #China or express support for law enforcement to @espn. It makes them real mad.”
Wojnarowski, held up as the gold-standard of NBA journalists, apologised soon afterwards.
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“I was disrespectful and I made a regrettable mistake,” Wojnarowski wrote on Twitter. “I’m sorry for the way I handled myself and I am reaching out immediately to Senator Hawley to apologise directly.
“I also need to apologise to my ESPN colleagues because I know my actions were unacceptable and should not reflect on any of them.”
ESPN also released a statement, declining to address whether Wojnarowski would be disciplined.
“This is completely unacceptable behaviour and we do not condone it,” the statement said. “It is inexcusable for anyone working for ESPN to respond in the way Adrian did to Senator Hawley. We are addressing it directly with Adrian and specifics of those conversations will remain internal.”
As the NBA readies for its restart to the season at the end of July, the league is allowing players to showcase social justice messages on their playing jerseys, such as “Equality”, “Black Lives Matter”, “Vote” and “I Can’t Breathe”.
However, the league limited statements to an approved list, which excluded any commentary regarding China.
In Hawley’s letter to Silver, the politician critically questioned whether “Free Hong Kong” could also be featured on the back of a player’s jersey, writing that the NBA’s “free expression appears to stop at the edge of your corporate sponsors’ sensibilities”.
In October, the NBA became embroiled in controversy in China, where the basketball-mad country has increased league revenue by billions of dollars. After Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey’s tweet — “Stand with Hong Kong” — in support of the city’s pro-democracy protests, the Chinese government cancelled NBA games and events scheduled to take place in the country, while Chinese businesses cut or suspended longstanding ties with the Rockets and local fans vowed to boycott the league.
Last season, nearly 500 million people in China watched NBA programming through the country’s exclusive digital platform.
This article originally appeared on the NY Post and was reproduced with permission.