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Thunder suspend announcer who said Russell Westbrook was ‘out of his cotton-picking mind’

While Russell Westbrook was pursuing enough rebounds in the Thunder’s season finale to clinch a triple-double season average, Thunder TV play-by-play announcer Brian Davis accentuated a nice pass by saying “Westbrook is ‘out of his cotton-picking mind.’

The modifier “cotton-picking” is an exclamatory phrase. Davis seemingly meant that Westbrook was playing out of his mind, a compliment. But the phrase is tangled in a history in which slaves primarily picked cotton in the South.

Fred Katz of The Norman Transcript:

I believe Davis didn’t consider the racist undertones of the phrase. It sounds innocent enough at first blush.

But this should serve as a reminder as all the subtle ways racism is baked into our society. To eradicate it, we first must actively identify it. There are far more harmful examples than a basketball announcer uttering an insensitive phrase.

Davis shouldn’t have said it, and he owned up to that and apologized. I’m not sure what suspending him accomplishes. This already shined a light on the context behind the phrase, and it seemed to serve as a learning experience for Davis and everyone else listening (myself included). I guess the suspension lets the Thunder show they take these matter very seriously.