- Adrian Wojnarowski, one of ESPN's NBA reporters, publicly apologized on Friday for responding "F— you" to a press release from the office of Republican Sen. Josh Hawley.
- Hawley wrote to NBA Commissioner Adam Silver to complain about the league releasing an approved list of social justice messages for players to put on their jerseys that didn't include anything about criticizing China.
- "I was disrespectful and made a regrettable mistake," Wojnarowski wrote. "I'm sorry for the way I handled myself and am reaching out to Senator Hawley to apologize directly."
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ESPN reporter Adrian Wojnarowski publicly apologized on Friday for responding "F— you" to a press release from the office of Sen. Josh Hawley criticizing the NBA for its association with China.
Hawley, a Missouri Republican, tweeted a screenshot of Wojnarowski replying with the message. Wojnarowski, who boasts 4 million followers on Twitter, is one of the top reporters covering basketball and the NBA and frequently breaks news about trades, free-agent signings, and other major developments.
In recent days, Hawley has criticized the NBA for putting out a pre-approved list of social justice-themed messages that players can wear on their jerseys, a list that does not include any messages that are critical of the Chinese Communist Party or supportive of law enforcement.
The press release from his office announced that he had written a letter to NBA Commissioner Adam Silver "blasting" the decision and calling for the NBA to "stand up for American values and make clear where they stand on China's human rights abuses."
Last year, the NBA was engulfed in a major controversy over its substantial business interests in China when Daryl Morey, the general manager of the Houston Rockets, tweeted in support of the pro-freedom protestors and activists in Hong Kong fighting against a law that would allow criminal suspects to be more easily extradited to mainland China.
The tweet set off a firestorm that resulted in the NBA's Chinese partners cutting ties with the league and the NBA distancing itself from Morey's comments, a move many commentators criticized at the time.
After Hawley's tweet, both Wojnarowski and ESPN's public relations department issued apology statements for Wojnarowksi's email.
"I was disrespectful and made a regrettable mistake," Wojnarowski wrote. "I'm sorry for the way I handled myself and am reaching out to Senator Hawley to apologize directly. I also need to apologize to my ESPN colleagues because I know my actions were unacceptable and should not reflect on any of them."
ESPN further called Wojnarowksi cursing in response to Hawley's press release "completely unacceptable behavior" and said they are "addressing it directly with Adrian and specifics of those conversations will remain internal."
Hawley, however, told a Fox Sports program that he doesn't want a personal apology from Wojnarowski.
"I want ESPN to ask the NBA why they won't let players stand up for America and be able to criticize China's actions," he said, adding, "Until ESPN speaks out, all they are really doing is enabling the Chinese Communist Party to stifle free speech in America."
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