Thunder broadcaster's 'offensive' remark about Russell Westbrook earns suspension

Ryan Young
An Oklahoma Thunder broadcaster said that Russell Westbrook was “out of his cotton-picking mind” on Wednesday night. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)
An Oklahoma Thunder broadcaster said that Russell Westbrook was “out of his cotton-picking mind” on Wednesday night. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

A broadcaster has been suspended after using an old Southern phrase with racial connotations while talking about Oklahoma Thunder guard Russell Westbrook on Wednesday night.

Brian Davis, who has done play-by-play for the Thunder on Fox Sports Oklahoma for eight seasons, said that Westbrook was “out of his cotton-picking mind” after the NBA star picked up an assist in the second quarter of their win against the Memphis Grizzlies.

Oklahoma City Thunder vice president of broadcasting Dan Mahoney told the Norman Transcript on Thursday that the Thunder believe Davis’ comments were “offensive and inappropriate.”

“We think obviously the use of that term was offensive and inappropriate, and I expressed that to Brian last night,” Mahoney said. “Brian assures me that it was not meant in any derogatory way, and he apologizes. But again, we feel strongly that it’s inappropriate and offensive.”

On Friday, the Thunder suspended Davis for Game 1 of the team’s first-round playoff series against the Utah Jazz.

Davis is a full-time Thunder employee, and has been calling games for the Thunder since 2008. He has also called games for the Chicago Blackhawks, Chicago Fire and Seattle Seahawks in his career. defined the phrase “cotton-picking” as a “general term of disapproval of something that is troublesome or a nuisance.


It can come as as little surprise that the term ‘cotton-picking’ originated in the southern states of the USA, where it is usually pronounced cotton-pickin’. It began life in the late 1700s and differs from the 19th century Dixie term, ‘cottonpicker’, in that the latter was derogatory and racist, whereas ‘cotton-picking’ referred directly to the difficulty and harshness of gathering the crop.

Davis addressed the suspension in a statement to the media on Friday.

“It is with great remorse and humility that I accept this suspension for the insensitive words I used during Wednesday’s broadcast,” he said. “While unintentional, I understand and acknowledge the gravity of the situation. I offer my sincere apology and realize that, while I committed a lapse in judgment, such mistakes come with consequences. This is an appropriate consequence for my actions.”

Davis is scheduled to return for Game 2 of the Thunder’s first-round series.

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OddsMoney LinePoint SpreadTotal Points
-154-3.5O 219.5
Oklahoma City
+125+3.5U 219.5