ESPN Fires Employee for Slur in Lin Headline

The fired employee posted a headline on ’s mobile Web site that used the phrase in a headline about Lin that appeared from 2:30 a.m. to 3:05 a.m. Saturday, after the Knicks’ loss to the New Orleans Hornets the night before. The phrase had two meanings, one of them an ethnic slur. The name of the employee was not released.

Max Bretos, an ESPN anchor, was suspended for 30 days for using the same phrase during an interview about Lin on ESPNews with Walt Frazier, the Knicks’ TV analyst for the MSG Network. Lin is of Chinese descent; his parents are Taiwanese.

On Twitter, and said, “My wife is Asian, would never intentionally say anything to disrespect her and that community.”

ESPN apologized Saturday for the two incidents but noted Sunday that it had become aware that a commentator at ESPN Radio New York, which carries Knicks games, used the same phrase Friday after the Knicks-Hornets game. The commentator was Spero Dedes, the Knicks’ play-by-play voice, who is an employee of Madison Square Garden.

In a statement, a Garden spokesman said, “We are evaluating and will have no additional comment at this time.”

In its statement, ESPN said: “We again apologize, especially to Mr. Lin. His accomplishments are a source of great pride to the Asian-American community, including the Asian-American employees at ESPN. Through self-examination, improved editorial practices and controls, and response to constructive criticism, we will be better in the future.”

Lin addressed the issue Sunday after leading the Knicks to a 104-97 victory against the Dallas Mavericks.

“ESPN has apologized,” he said. “I don’t think it was on purpose or whatever. At the same time, they’ve apologized, and so from my end I don’t care anymore. Have to learn to forgive. And I don’t even think that was intentional, or hopefully not.”

Lin, a sensation not only in New York but in Asia, too, said his family in Taiwan, especially his grandmother, has been besieged by the news media.

“Obviously I love my family, I love my relatives,” Lin said. “One special request I have is for the media back in Taiwan to kind of give them their space. Because they can’t even go to work without being bombarded and people following them. I just want people to respect the privacy of my relatives in Taiwan. Hopefully this will get back to everybody, because they need to live their lives as well.”

Howard Beck contributed reporting.

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