Broadcasters apologize to HaddadiComment Email Print Share Associated Press
LOS ANGELES -- Clippers play-by-play man Ralph Lawler and color analyst Michael Smith met with Grizzlies center Hamed Haddadi before Sunday's game at Staples Center, where they expressed regret for an incident that earned the TV broadcasters a one-game suspension.
It was the first meeting between the teams since Lawler's and Smith's off-the-cuff remarks about the Iranian-born center during the final minutes of the Clippers' 106-91 loss at Memphis on Nov. 18. One offended viewer sent an e-mail to the Fox Sports Prime Ticket network.
"It went really well," Lawler told the Associated Press, about an hour before tipoff. "It was really good to get a chance to shake his hand and look him in the eye. We reached out to him, he reached back, and I feel real good about it."
Before Lawler and Smith spoke with Haddadi in the Grizzlies' dressing room, they had a conversation with his agent and three representatives of the Alliance of Iranian Americans in another room that coach Mike Dunleavy uses for his postgame press conferences.
"He doesn't speak a whole lot of English, so we had his manager translate for us," Lawler added. "He basically indicated that he's seen a number of our shows and thought that some people kind of took what we said out of context. He understood there were no ill intentions and understood our humor."
By sheer coincidence, Sunday was Iranian Heritage day.
"I think it's very fitting," Lawler said. "He said he's got a gift for us that the manager was going to bring to us later, just as a token of the good will that exists. So I couldn't be more pleased. I'm glad to finally put it behind us."
Last Monday, when he and Smith returned to the microphones, Lawler spoke at the top of the broadcast about how much the duo regretted the remarks and the firestorm it created.
"He's totally aware," Lawler said of Haddadi. "He had read the transcript, he had seen the video and was perfectly fine with it."