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Is Bill Raftery's "Onions" catchphrase inappropriate for TV?

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Considering that Bill Raftery's eccentric lexicon provided the name of this very blog, we're of course going to go out of our way to defend the superb CBS basketball analyst whenever he faces even the slightest criticism.

That's why I've got to strongly disagree with New York Post media columnist Phil Mushnick when he calls for Raftery to retire his trademark catchphrase "onions" that he shouts whenever a player makes a clutch shot late in a game.

Mushnick certainly isn't entirely wrong when he suggests that the use of a "crude crotch term" is unfit for TV, but Raftery has earned the right to have his colorful vocabulary celebrated not censored. Besides, in today's Internet age, don't most third graders hear more harmful terms on the playground or the school cafeteria?

Raftery downplayed the vulgarity of the term in an interview on the Dan Patrick Show earlier this week, insisting that he doesn't mean to be "suggestive" in any way.

"It's about toughness," Raftery said. "As you know, having many moments when there's nothing in that beautiful head of yours, things pop out. Ian Eagle claims I did it in a Nets game when they hit a jump shot."

Of course, former broadcast partner Eagle was a little more candid about the meaning of "onions" when he relayed the story to which Raftery is referring last year on Dan Levy's On The DL podcast:

"I remember it vividly. It was my first year and the Nets were playing a game down in Miami. And Kevin Edwards hit a big three from the corner to give the Nets a one-point lead late in the game. I had the call: ‘Edwards from the corner, three is GOOD.’ And Raf goes, ‘OOOOH, ONIONS!!!!’

And I turn to him, and I knew Raf’s Raf-to-English translation like the back of my hand. I was able to provide listeners with the track that they needed to follow along. But I had no idea what he was talking about. So I turn to him during the break and say, ‘Bill, Raf, I don’t get that, what is that? Onions? What, it was so good that you cried?’ He said, ‘Hey Bird (Raf’s nickname for Eagle) ... BIG BALLS.’ And that was it. That’s when ONIONS was born."

Great story, great announcer and by all accounts, great guy. Let's move on to bigger issues, shall we?

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