ESPN reporter Adrian Wojnarowski sent an email reading "F—k you" to the office of Senator Josh Hawley (R., Mo.) on Friday in response to the senator's criticism of Chinese influence in the NBA.
The note came in response to Hawley's open letter to the National Basketball Association condemning its new policy on players’ jerseys, and Wojnarowski apologized later on Friday after Hawley publicized the email. The new policy allows players to wear messages in response to recent police brutality cases that prompted protests across the nation, but does not allow players to select messages criticizing human rights violations in China.
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"Conspicuously missing from the list of approved phrases are any in support of the victims of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), including the people of Hong Kong, whose remaining freedoms are being extinguished by the CCP’s newly enacted national security law," Hawley’s statement reads.
Wojnarowski tweeted Friday afternoon to apologize for his conduct.
"I was disrespectful and I made a regrettable mistake. I'm sorry for the way I handled myself and I am reaching out immediately to Senator Hawley to apologize directly. I also need to apologize to my ESPN colleagues because I know my actions were unacceptable and should not reflect on any of them," the tweet reads.
Wojnarowksi is a senior NBA reporter at ESPN. He has won the national sportswriter of the year award for three consecutive years and is famous for his eponymous "Woj bombs," or insider scoops on NBA trade and free agency intrigue.
Prior statements from NBA players and administrators exhibit an unwillingness to take a stance on China. Hawley’s letter highlights the NBA's apology to Beijing after Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey expressed support for the Hong Kong protests. Instead of backing Morey, NBA commissioner Adam Silver "chose to apologize to the CCP."
NBA superstar LeBron James previously made headlines with his own controversial statement about the protests. Morey "either was misinformed or not really educated on the situation," James said. He later backtracked those comments.
"What offensive nonsense," Hawley wrote in the open letter. "No amount of profit can justify collaborating with a regime for which violent suppression and enslavement are routine tools of governance."
Updated: 2:32 p.m.: This post was updated with Wojnarowski's apology.