ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne is one of the most well-respected NBA reporters in the industry, but she had a rare major misstep in a recent radio interview. During a radio spot, she discussed new Los Angeles Lakers star Anthony Davis’ tense break-up with the New Orleans Pelicans ahead of the two teams’ game tonight, and wound up saying some regrettable things about the Pels’ fan base as a whole.
Davis famous requested a trade from New Orleans, with the Lakers in his sights. He was eventually dealt to L.A. during the off-season, after his trade request was made public in January.
In an ideal world, New Orleans would’ve been able to hang on to its homegrown star. Ultimately, things worked out pretty well for both sides.
The Lakers have Davis, who has meshed very well with LeBron James early this season. The Pelicans landed the No. 1 pick, Zion Williamson, and Brandon Ingram, who was included in the trade, is having a true breakout season. The team has struggled as Williamson recovers from injury, but it should feel good about its young talented core.
That doesn’t mean there won’t be lingering animosity when Davis returns to New Orleans tonight. Shelburne, who is Los Angeles-based, probably didn’t help with her comments on Tuesday.
During the interview, she insinuated that some of the hard feelings between Davis and the Pelicans fan base has to do with race, especially with Rich Paul serving as a face of the ordeal.
Here's the full quote in question from Ramona about Rich Paul, Anthony Davis and New Orleans: pic.twitter.com/sRJCt7kBlK
— Mason Ginsberg (@MasonGinsberg) November 27, 2019
Naturally, those in New Orleans are pretty upset about that idea, and rightfully so.
I think Ramona Shelburne is an EXCELLENT reporter, but her comments about New Orleans yesterday are reprehensible @ramonashelburne
So incredibly frustrating for someone to throw such an ignorant take out there and then never have to address it again
— T-Bob Hebert (@TBob53) November 27, 2019
After digesting the full context of this, it’s actually more insulting and more reductive than the initial quote revealed.
— Scott Kushner (@ScottDKushner) November 27, 2019
This afternoon, Ramona Shelburne put out a statement in which she apologized to Pelicans fans and the city of New Orleans for “oversimplifying a very complicated and emotional situation.”
Statement from Ramona Shelbourne: "Since my appearance on LA radio Tuesday, I've spoken to many people and now realize that I inappropriately oversimplified a very complicated and emotional situation. I sincerely apologize for that mistake and to the city of New Orleans."
— Rod Walker (@RodWalkerNola) November 27, 2019
The Pelicans and Lakers tip off at the Smoothie King Center in New Orleans at 9:30 p.m. tonight.