With 4:48 remaining in the New York Knicks' season-ending loss to the Miami Heat on Wednesday night, Amar'e Stoudemire fouled out. As a joke, Miami Heat public address announcer Michael Baiamonte made a little joke and said that Stoudemire had been "extinguished" from the game. In case you've been living under a virtual rock for the last week, that's a reference to Stoudemire's incident punching a fire extinguisher after the Knicks' Game 2 loss. You can watch Baiamonte's zinger above, courtesy of our friends at the Yahoo! Sports Minute.
Baiamonte has gotten a lot of attention for the joke, and not all of it has been positive. So, in response, the Heat have issued an apology. Ira Winderman of the Miami Sun-Sentinel has the text (via PBT):
"Last night at our game, our PA Announcer had a momentary lapse of judgment and used a poor choice of words in describing Amare Stoudemire's fouling out of the game. This is not who we are as an organization or who he is as an announcer. Both the Miami Heat and Michael Baiamonte apologize to Amare and the New York Knicks for the inappropriate choice of words."
The joke was not universally reviled, but the Heat obviously received enough complaints or saw enough of a PR problem to issue the apology. The problem might not have been the joke itself — because, really, we've all made jokes about the punch — but that Baiamonte crossed a line in his job as a public address announcer. In theory, that job should be informative, and not an opportunity for second-rate morning radio show hosts to try out new material.
Unfortunately, that ship sailed long ago, and Baiamonte has been making a career out of these sorts of comments for quite some time. His "DOS MINUTOS" catchphrase is pretty much universally reviled among fans who hear it during every Heat TV broadcast, and his general demeanor is not exactly that of a Bob Sheppard. In the NBA, Baiamonte is closer to the norm than an outlier. At times, it seems like he could be replaced with a sound-effects machine without anyone really noticing.
The point is that apologizing for the "extinguished" feels like selective enforcement, because he's made any number of comments that offend basketball fans on a regular basis. If we're lucky, this apology will be the start of a change of opinion in what makes for a good PA announcer. We all deserve much better.