Kings TV’s Mark Jones likes video using racial epithet to slam ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith

Paul Kitagaki Jr./pkitagaki@sacbee.com

ESPN and Sacramento Kings play-by-play announcer Mark Jones is drawing criticism after he liked a video on Twitter that used a racial epithet to describe fellow ESPN broadcaster Stephen A. Smith.

Jones liked and later unliked a tweet from Bishop Talbert Swan, who posted a video of dancing raccoons to describe Smith’s defense of Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones. Smith recently defended Jerry Jones, 80, saying he didn’t deserve the backlash he received over a photo showing him among a crowd of white students who attempted to block Black students from entering Arkansas’ North Little Rock High School in 1957.

Jerry Jones has acknowledged it is him in the photo, but he said he was there as a “curious” onlooker, not to protest integration.

“I’m very, very fond of Jerry Jones, and I’m not hiding that from anybody,” Smith said. “Is his record perfect? No, but I’m pissed off because he doesn’t deserve what just happened. He doesn’t deserve it. One report, our report, said he was 14 years old. Another report said he was 15 years old. At minimum, that’s 65 years ago. … This is where cancel culture gets into the mix, and you’re making an attempt to eradicate him, what he stands for, and all that he has done.”

Smith’s remarks didn’t sit well with Swan, who retweeted Smith’s commentary along with the dancing raccoon video. Mark Jones unliked Swan’s tweet after news organizations took notice, but his likes had already been screenshotted and shared on social media.

Jones and Kings officials have not responded to requests for comment from The Sacramento Bee.

In the past, Jones reportedly shared a tweet suggesting the San Francisco 49ersNick Bosa deserved a torn ACL and mocked UFC fighter Colby Covington for suffering a broken jaw because the athletes supported former President Donald Trump. Jones, who calls NBA basketball and college football games on ESPN in addition to his work with the Kings, was also criticized for a 2020 tweet in which he said he would refuse his usual police escort for a college football assignment.

“Saturday at my football game I’ll tell the police officer on duty to ‘protect’ me he can just take the day off,” Jones tweeted. “(For real) I’d rather not have the officer shoot me because he feared for his life because of my black skin or other dumb ish. I’m not signing my own death certificate.”

Jones is now in his third season as the Kings’ lead play-by-play announcer. He was hired in November 2020 to replace Grant Napear, whose downfall came after his own social media firestorm led to accusations of racial insensitivity.

Napear spent 32 years on Sacramento’s airwaves as a popular radio host and Kings play-by-play announcer. Napear was fired by Bonneville International Corporation, the parent company of Sactown Sports 1140, and resigned from his Kings TV post after he replied to a tweet from former Kings center DeMarcus Cousins, who asked Napear for his thoughts on the Black Lives Matter movement.

During a weekend of unrest in the United States following the death of George Floyd, Napear replied: “Hey!!!! How are you? Thought you forgot about me. Haven’t heard from you in years. ALL LIVES MATTER. … EVERY SINGLE ONE!!!”