Adrian Wojnarowski, ESPN’s lead NBA insider and one of the most influential sports journalists in the country, has been suspended according to a new report. The decision comes after he cursed out Missouri senator Josh Hawley via email this week.
The news comes a day into practices for NBA teams. The league is restarting its season in a “bubble” on Disney property in Orlando. Play has been suspended since March 11 due to the ongoing public health crisis.
Hawley emailed Woj, criticizing the NBA for “refusing to support the United States military,” a response to the 29 phrases the league has okayed for the backs of players jerseys, most of which have connections to social justice causes. He got back a two word reply from the venerated reporter: “f*** you.” Hawley then took to Twitter to share the response, which, as you’d image, drew strong reactions from all sides of the political and basketball aisles.
Wojnarowski apologized after the email was publicized. “I was disrespectful and I made a regrettable mistake,” he said on Twitter. “I’m sorry for the way I handled myself and I am reaching out immediately to Senator Hawley to apologize directly. I also need to apologize to my ESPN colleagues because I know my actions were unacceptable and should not reflect on any of them.” Now, according to Ryan Glasspiegel of Outkick the Coverage, Adrian Wojnarowski has been suspended.
— Ryan Glasspiegel (@sportsrapport) July 12, 2020
“At press time, we were unable to determine the length of the suspension for the NBA insider as it’s being held close to the vest,” Glasspiegel reports. ESPN has cracked down on explicit political speech in recent years under president Jimmy Pitaro. While things seemed to loosen in recent months as the nation reckoned with the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and others, it is not a huge surprise that ESPN brass were not happy with one of their biggest personalities cursing out a U.S. senator.
“This is completely unacceptable behavior and we do not condone it,” ESPN said in a statement, which was released along with Woj’s apology. “It is inexcusable for anyone working for ESPN to respond in the way Adrian did to Senator Hawley. We are addressing it directly with Adrian and specifics of those conversations will remain internal.”
Hawley responded to the apologies by inviting Pitaro to speak to him in Washington this week.
My phone has been ringing off the hook with lobbyists from @espn, from @Disney, the works. Let’s make this simple. I’m inviting ESPN CEO Jimmy Pitaro to Washington. My office. Let’s sit down and discuss ESPN, #China, the @NBA. Look forward to his response
— Josh Hawley (@HawleyMO) July 10, 2020
It isn’t a stretch to say that Hawley was dealing in bad faith with this entire situation, but Woj was always flirting with trouble with that response. He didn’t hurt himself in the eyes of some colleagues however, as there was an outpouring of support for him after the email was disseminated and he released his apology.
The NBA is set to return to action on July 30. We’ll see if Woj’s reported suspension is up by then. I’d bet on it.