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Bernier apologizes, ‘embarrassed’ after Mandela gaffe

Jonathan Bernier

From the Toronto Star:

If there was a red-faced Maple Leaf over the weekend, it was Jonathan Bernier.

Invited by the Raptors to an event to celebrate Nelson Mandela’s life and legacy, Bernier was cornered on the red carpet and asked about the icon.

His answer suggested he thought Mandela was an athlete, not an anti-apartheid revolutionary and former president of South Africa.

Oddly, Bernier’s answer was posted to the Raptors’ website and the wild west of the Internet took it from there; it has since been taken down.

“I’m embarrassed,” said Bernier. “I didn’t mean to offend him, his legacy. I got flustered with the red carpet and I was nervous. I think everyone makes mistakes and that was me that night.”

As mentioned, the Raptors pulled the video from their website -- you can see other athlete’s Mandela testimonials here -- but, per Yahoo (via Reddit), a transcript of the scrubbed interview claims Bernier called Mandela “a tremendous athlete,” adding “he’s definitely one of the athletes I watched growing up as well.”