Russell Westbrook responds to announcer's 'cotton-picking' comment: 'What he said wasn't OK'

During Wednesday’s NBA season finale between the Oklahoma City and the Memphis Grizzlies, Thunder TV announcer Brian Davis used an old Southern phrase to describe Russell Westbrook’s play.

When Westbrook, who was in the midst of securing his second straight season averaging a triple-double, delivered a transition assist in traffic, Davis proclaimed that the Thunder guard was “out of his cotton-picking mind.”

The utterance, which has a colloquial history in Southern parlance, also has connotations to America’s history with slavery and drew immediate scorn from many on social media.

On Friday, the Thunder announced that Davis would be suspended from his broadcasting job on Fox Sports Oklahoma for the team’s Game 1 playoff matchup against the Utah Jazz.

Thunder vice president of broadcasting Dan Mahoney denounced Davis’ comments in an interview with the Norman Transcript.

“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.”

Thunder guard Russell Westbrook told reporters that announcer Brian Davis’ “cotton-picking” comment wasn’t OK, but that the team wanted to move on. (AP)
Thunder guard Russell Westbrook told reporters that announcer Brian Davis’ “cotton-picking” comment wasn’t OK, but that the team wanted to move on. (AP)

Davis apologized publicly in a statement given to ESPN.

“It is with great remorse and humility that I accept this suspension for the insensitive words I used during Wednesday’s broadcast,” Davis 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 met with Thunder players on Saturday to talk about the situation. Westbrook and Paul George talked about the meeting with media members.

“Brian’s been here for a while,” Westbrook said. “I know him personally. Obviously what he said wasn’t OK, and we all understand that. But he definitely came in and talked to us. The team has made a decision to do what they need to do, and we just move on from it.”

George said that Davis owned what he said and that the team was trying to focus on preparing for the playoffs rather than the internal controversy.

“He addressed the situation,” George said. “That’s not where our focus is, what happened. He owned up. He took it head on. That’s for him and the front office to discuss. They did, so we move on. We move on. We’ve got something bigger to focus on and be worried about.”

The Thunder open their series with the Jazz on Sunday at 6:30 p.m. ET.

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