Unethical Quote Of The Week: Kentucky Guard Andrew Harrison

“Fuck that nigger.”

—-Kentucky guard Andrew Harrison, muttering behind his hand into a live microphone after answering a post-Final Four game news conference question about Wisconsin player Frank Kaminsky, whose heroics had contributed greatly to Kentucky’s 71-64 defeat by the Badgers,  ruining  the Wildcats’ undefeated season and the favored Kentucky’s hopes of another NCAA basketball tournament championship.

Stay classy, Andrew.

Stay classy, Andrew.

We are constantly told how college sports builds character, sportsmanship and life skills, and that the experience itself is a valuable education that will serve students well in their future careers.


Harrison later said, in multiple tweets apologizing on Twitter, that his remark was a misunderstood “poor choice of words”—well, except for the word “that”—and that he really admired and respected his rival. Harrison did not explain why his admiration and respect did not extend to shaking hands with the team that had just beaten his, as NCAA practice dictates.

If, by some chance, Harrison does not succeed in his imminent NBA career (that will prevent him from actually getting a degree) or does not make enough millions before flopping that he has to support himself with less lucrative pursuits, his lack of basic manners, civility and judgment will prove to be quite a handicap, I imagine. Too bad he didn’t learn any  of that in college.

But I look forward to having it explained to me once again why a black man calling a white one a “nigger” following a vulgarity should be excused as simply a charming cultural expression of respect that one can only appreciate in the context of the larger African-American experience, while a white man saying the same about a black player would become an instant national pariah and risk having his house burned down.

Side note: It took me 15 minutes and visits to six web sites before I could find out exactly what it was that Harrison said.  Most sources vaguely reported that he had uttered “an expletive and a slur,” or plunged readers into a game of “Hangman” with the statement being reported as “_ _ _ _ that _ _ _ _ _ _.” The Washington Post settled on “[Expletive] that [N-word].” Which expletive??? This is ridiculous, and as inexcusably bad journalism as refusing to show the Charlie Hebdo cartoons that caused the Paris massacre.  The story is about what Harrison said, and it is impossible to inform readers about the incident without saying exactly what was said.



22 thoughts on “Unethical Quote Of The Week: Kentucky Guard Andrew Harrison

  1. Is it mitigating to you that he said it under his breath, obviously not realizing the power of the microphone? What about the understandable disappointment and the quick apology?

    • Nope.
      As to the apology, he’s not dumb, not at all. He had to know this would be trouble, so he apologized quick. But for heaven’s sake, he’s on camera, it’s live, and he’s right by a live mic. What, he couldn’t control himself? Tell ne he suffers from Tourette’s and I’ll retract my criticism.

  2. “I look forward to having it explained to me once again why a black man calling a white one a “nigger” following a vulgarity should be excused as simply a charming cultural expression of respect that one can only appreciate in the context of the larger African-American experience, while a white man saying the same about a black player would become an instant national pariah and risk having his house burned down.”

    You won’t get that explanation from me.
    But what you will get is a reminder that you can never take words at face value, you have to view them in context.

    In fact, this is a perfect example. The “N” word can signify lots of things, depending on context. It can be meant, as you suggest, as a term of endearment if uttered by a black person, usually about other black people. A current example is Snoop Dogg’s turn in the currently-on-TV Roast of Justin Bieber.
    It can also be be meant as an insult, if uttered about black people, usually but not exclusively by white people.
    How do we know it was meant as an insult here? Not by the words themselves, as you note–but by the context.
    What context? Whispering, thinking he was off-mic, obviously being embarrassed at having been found out, ” apologizing” after the fact, and as you point out, having behaviorally indicated his dislike previously.
    (By the way, if he’d REALLY wanted to dis the other player, he’d have called him a “Negro,” a word that in that context would mean something entirely different had my late grandmother said it 30 years ago. Or for that matter, different from what Dr Martin Luther King meant when he used it, regularly.

    Try as you might, Jack, you can’t discrrn the meaning of words by just looking in the dictionary. You’ve got to see the context, which may include race, time, intonation, audience, and many more. This is no gotcha example, in fact it’s the reverse. You just can’t assume that the same words, uttered in different contexts like differing race of the speaker, will mean the same thing.

    • And in case I wasn’t clear, I’m agreeing with you that it was insulting, inappropriate, and all the other things you said about his comment.
      I also agree with you on regretting the censorship, though I’m still trying to sort out whether and when exceptions should be made.

  3. He said nigga just to be clear which is something we tend to throw around towards any race. My white friend is my nigga someone i dont like fuck that nigga. I’m watching the game Tony Parker makes a stupid turnover fuck that nigga. It happens I can’t say I think he should’ve said it on air but people are blowing this way out of proportion and personally people need to stop. We say it all the time and it’s not likely to change.

    White people are the first ones to jump on people for saying it. What gives you the right to say what is offensive to us and have debates on whether black people should say it to each other? Focus on the psycho from my city of Buffalo going into a rant towarss a black man saying “you’re a racist nigger” didnt see much national attention for that one. Just worry about your selves and try to quote people correctly, racist people using “nigger” is in a completely different context from “nigga”

  4. Wait a minute. He called a white guy a nigger? I’m over seas and out of touch with college basketball. I figured maybe the guy was a black guy with a Polish surname. I didn’t even bother to see what Kaminsky looked like. I guess he’s a despicable guy because he dares to play basketball and he’s not black? Kind of like Jerry Mulligan or Marian McPartland dared to be great jazz players regardless of their skin problem? Shame on all of them. Bunch of honkies. (Hey, can I call a white person a honkey because I’m white?)

    In any event, I’m sorry. This is sheer stupidity enabling stupidity. If black people or any people want white people or any people to not use the word nigger, I think they’ve got to stop using it themselves. Plain and simple. Call me a dope or a redneck or a cracker or whatever you want, but if a word is freighted and toxic, it’s freighted and toxic, no matter who says it or in what context. And for the sake of clarification, I truly believe nigger is impossibly freighted and toxic.

    • Can you imagine Martin Luther King going on for ten minutes to a congregation about the finer points of the proper usage of nigger among black people? I can’t. I think he’d consider the use of nigger by black people outrageous and counter productive in the worst possible way.

  5. I assumed he called him a Polack or something similar. My question is, why hasn’t he been suspended? If you do a news search, you see reports of students all across the country being suspended or expelled for using a racial epithet…. Sorry, I answered my own question. Those were students, this was an athlete.

  6. Jack, come on now! Inside the inner Sanctum of blackese for which only the initiated understand and are allowed to partake, you know full well that his exact quote really means “I congratulate the commendable efforts of my opposition, whose athletic prowess was demonstrated in top form, who striving against me showed a capacity greater than I. I heartily believe I did my best and yet was bested by him. Furthermore, I believe the game has been advanced and professionalism strengthened by our display of competitiveness tempered by sportsmanship.”

    Only a racist would see anything else.

    • The most wonderful and enlightening translation was obviously floridly and most beautifully composed with much respect on behalf of the Mr. Harrison and the UK Athletic Department by UK Islamic Students Association’s Department of the PR, praise Allah.

  7. If white people are ever enslaved on a massive scale, you can say “cracker” and then condemn any other race who uses that same word, okay?

    Damn. White men are some evil, insensitive pricks who can’t even own up to all the destruction their ancestors have caused. I’m just waiting for you to bring up the Native Americans.

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