Wojnarowski is expected to be part of the ESPN coverage of the NBA season in Orlando at a later date. According to the same persons, the suspension is between one and two weeks.
The suspension comes after Senator Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) Tweeted a picture of an email from Wojnarowski on Friday, in which the reporter replied to a press release from the Senator’s office with an explanation.
Hawley’s release had published a letter he wrote to NBA commissioner Adam Silver. Hawley criticized the league for allowing embassies this summer to promote social justice on shirts, but not allowing embassies to support law enforcement or criticize the Chinese Communist Party.
In the email to Hawley̵
Hawley posted a picture of the email on Twitter saying, “Don’t criticize #China and express no support for law enforcement @espn. It really makes them angry. ”
Wojnarowski tweeted an apology on Friday and wrote: “I was disrespectful and made an unfortunate mistake. I am sorry for how I treated myself and I immediately contact Sen. Hawley to apologize directly. ”
ESPN released its own statement on Friday titled, “This is completely unacceptable behavior and we do not tolerate it. It is inexcusable for someone working for ESPN to react the way Adrian did to Sen. Hawley. ”
According to someone with knowledge of the exchange, Wojnarowski attempted to reach Hawley’s office on Friday to apologize, but did not respond. Hawley’s office didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment, but Hawley tweeted on Sunday that ESPN Wojnarowski shouldn’t have suspended and instead should report more on China’s relationship with the NBA.
As part of the resumption of the NBA season after a month-long hiatus due to the novel outbreak of the corona virus, the league and its players’ association negotiated messages that players could display on the back of their jerseys to support the Black Lives Matter movement, protests across the country against police brutality and racial injustice. In his letter to Silver, Hawley suggested that players also display messages that support the police and military.
Hawley’s letter also criticized the League’s support for social justice compared to its response to Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey, who tweeted his support for democracy-friendly protesters in Hong Kong before an exhibition tour of China last fall. The NBA maintains lucrative relationships with China on television and in the merchandise business. After a reaction from the Chinese government, Morey deleted the tweet and the league called his comments “unfortunate”.
Wojnarowski, one of ESPN’s best-known reporters and known for routinely delivering NBA news to his 4 million Twitter followers, also played a role in this controversy. After liking Morey’s tweet, he was bombarded with threats on Twitter for easily being aware of China and supporting Hong Kong.
Some prominent NBA personalities came to Wojnarowski’s defense over the weekend. When asked about Hawley on Saturday, Doc Rivers, coach of Los Angeles Clippers, told reporters, “I’m going to challenge: We will do things for the troops as long as [Hawley] confirms #BlackLivesMatter. I think that would be really cool for him. ”
Rivers added, “You know, it’s funny when we talk about justice, people try to change the message. Colin Kaepernick kneels down… it was about social injustice and everyone was trying to change the story. How about sticking to and dealing with what we’re talking about, rather than trying to trick us or change or trick your voters? How would it be to be real? “