ESPN Fires Employee and Suspends Anchor For Use of Phrase Containing Racial Slur


ESPN has fired one unnamed employee and suspended ESPNews anchor Max Bretos for using the term ‘chink in the armor’ in reference to an Asian-American NBA player.

ESPN announced Sunday that it has fired the employee responsible for using the aforementioned term in a headline about Friday’s Hornets/Knicks game. The headline appeared on the mobile and tablet editions of, with a picture of the player — Knicks guard Jeremy Lin — accompanying the headline on some versions.

In addition, ESPN has suspended Bretos for thirty days after he used the term in an interview earlier this week with MSG Network TV analyst Walt Frazier. “If there is a chink in the armor,” Bretos asked Frazier, “where can Lin improve his game?” (, 2/19).

ESPN also divulged at an ESPN Radio commentator in New York had also used the phrase, but said commentator is not an ESPN employee.

(ESPN press release via Fang’s Bites; video of Bretos question from

  • Edwin Brewer

    The sports media likes the underdog, the athlete who comes
    seemingly out of nowhere to make a splash on the sport landscape. Wait
    correction. The sports media likes to exploit the underdog. Almost no culprit
    is worse than the four letter network. From the Butler Bulldogs, to Tim Tebow,
    to Jeremey Lin, ESPN cannot resist the chance to hype another “Underdog” (let’s
    forget the fact that Lin should be successful, he’s a professional athlete!). From
    February 10th through February 16th, Lin’s name was
    mentioned 350 times on the 11 P.M. SportsCenter (Burns, 2012). That was more
    times than the words “if” or “but.” One could say that that ESPN was going
    Linsane on a brand of Linsanity they had created themselves.


    When an ESPN copyeditor crafted a headline questioning a
    “Chink in the Armor” of Lin, he was fired. The reason given for the firing is
    that the headline included a racial slur. Yes, Chink is derogatory when used to
    describe Asians. However, to insinuate that the writer was targeting Lin for
    his ancestry is just as offensive. ESPN did not launch an investigation into
    the incident, instead just firing the writer. By doing so, ESPN has taken a
    historically used cliché out of use. “Chink in the armor” has been used by
    sportswriters for years to describe the flaw in a seemingly unstoppable
    athlete’s performance. Lebron’s “chink” is ego, Kobe’s “chink” was selfishness,
    Favre’s “chink” was interceptions and cell phone pictures. The phrase has been
    used many times, and not once was it deemed offensive. Yet, in the case of
    Jeremy Lin, a writer was fired (quite publicly I might add) and an anchor was
    suspended. It leaves me to wonder, was ESPN more offended by the use of the
    phrase or at negativity directed towards its newly created media darling?


    Burns, Patrick, 2012. Bristolmetrics: February 10 through
    February 16. Retrieved from